Collins out, Gray to follow?
Neill Collins has signed for promotion hopefuls Sheffield United, while outcast striker Andy Gray is a loan target for Derby and Burnley.
The Scottish centre back has already spent half the season on loan at Hartlepool and will continue his learning curve at a higher level.
Neil Warnock has been looking to strengthen his depleted backline for the final stages of United's promotion push.
'We have a lot of injuries to defenders so I'm very pleased to get Neill on loan,' Warnock told the club's official website.
'He played very well against us in the league at Sunderland last season - he'll give us some back-up.'
Meanwhile striker Andy Gray, who has proved a £1million Premiership flop for McCarthy, has emerged as a loan target for Championship clubs Burnley and Derby
Gray is currently injured with an achilles injury but is expected to be allowed to leave Wearside on a temporary basis when fully fit.
Burnley had a £400,000 bid for Gray rejected during the transfer window last month after selling Ade Akinbiyi to Sheffield United. But Sunderland, who paid £1.1m to Sheffield United for the 28-year-old last summer, are holding out for more for a man who's Championship record is a decent one, despite his failings at a higher level.