Keane has already tried and failed to bring two United youngsters to the Stadium of Light this summer. Jonny Evans and Danny Simpson impressed on loan last season but Ferguson felt they would be needed in his first-team squad.
However, the Scot is well blessed with midfielders and, although he sees Gibson as a potential star, he believes him to be a year away from pushing for a first-team place. With Owen Hargreaves, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Darren Fletcher and John O'Shea available, Ferguson is thought to be receptive to a 12-month loan. Gibson spent 2006-07 at the Red Devils' feeder club, Royal Antwerp, where Evans and Simpson played for the first half of the season.