The former Scotland international is a free agent after being released by Everton in the summer, while Black Cats boss Martin O'Neill is looking to loan his fringe players out
The midfielder spent time with his first club, Motherwell, in the summer but has failed to secure a contract since being released by Everton in the summer.
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He told reporters: "James has trained with us and I think he's done well. I'll have a proper word with him this week."
O'Neill is also keen to allow some of his fringe players to leave the club temporarily, in order for them to gain first-team experience, after Danny Rose's succesful loan move to the Stadium of Light from Tottenham.
"In the past going out on loan might have had a stigma to it, now that's far from the case," the 60-year-old continued.
"We've taken Danny on loan here and had he been down at Spurs he wouldn't have been in their starting line up, so it's a great opportunity for him. That should be the way the players look at it.
"I'm all for loaning players out. We don't have a massive squad but I could stagger those loans so you don't have a big group out at the same time."