CRAIG Gordon could leave Sunderland for nothing next summer, with the Black Cats prepared to allow Britain’s most expensive keeper to enter the final year of his contract.
Gordon had been due to enter talks with Sunderland before the end of the season, with the 28-year-old’s five-year deal on Wearside coming to an end in 2012.
But a knee tendon injury has forced those negotiations to be shelved and boss Steve Bruce is not prepared to discuss a new contract for Gordon until he can prove his fitness.
Gordon, a £9million buy, is expected to miss the start of the season after going under the knife last month.
Bruce insists he cannot justify holding contract talks with Gordon while he is sidelined – even if it means the Scotland stopper leaves on a free transfer at the end of his current deal.
“We can’t go into negotiations now with someone who has had a serious knee operation,” said Bruce.
“That is the way football is and I think he understands. He is not going to do pre-season again this summer.”
With Gordon potentially out until October, Bruce will bid to bring in a new stopper before the start of the season, with Coventry’s Keiren Westwood at the top of his list.
He added: “The lesson I have learned is I can’t take the risk. I have got to find another goalkeeper. I need to try and bring in someone else.
“Craig has to get back fit and give us the problem then.”
Simon Mignolet has deputised effectively for Gordon this season, with the 22-year-old proving a bargain £1million acquisition from lowly Belgian outfit St Truiden.
But Supporters Player of the Year Mignolet remains an inexperienced stopper, despite winning his first senior Belgium cap this season.
Westwood has made more than 250 senior appearances for Carlisle and Coventry and has long been on Bruce’s radar.
With the 26-year-old available on a free transfer after turning down a lucrative new deal to stay at the Ricoh Arena, he also represents value for money with Bruce needing to bring in extensive reinforcements this summer.
His arrival could spell the end of third-choice Trevor Carson’s time at Sunderland, with the Northern Ireland stopper spending time on loan at Lincoln and Brentford this season.