Jeremain Lens was left out of Sunderland’s squad at Chelsea for disciplinary reasons, Sam Allardyce has confirmed.
Sunderland splashed out an initial £8million – plus potentially another £5m in add-ons – to bring Lens to the Stadium of Light during the summer, yet he did not even make the bench for Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
Lens wasn’t in the Sunderland party which travelled to London after spending part of last week training with the Under-21 squad, following an incident at the conclusion of the Black Cats’ home loss to Watford.
When asked about Lens’ absence, Sunderland boss Allardyce would only offer a one-word explanation of “disciplinary” reasons.
But the omission of Lens will only fuel speculation over the Holland international’s status at the Stadium of Light, with the January transfer window on the horizon.
It was ex-Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat who made Lens the big-money capture of the club’s summer spending spree after he had worked with the 28-year-old at PSV Eindhoven.
But Lens had a reputation on the Continent for inconsistency and he has struggled with the work-rate demands of Premier League football.
Lens has started just once under Allardyce – October’s derby win over Newcastle – and was an unused substitute for the defeat to Watford, prior to the Chelsea clash.
Allardyce admitted last month that Lens needed to improve his overall contribution if he was to earn a chance in the side, despite Sunderland’s struggles at the wrong end of the table.
“I think what Jeremain has to do overall, like they all have to do, is to lift his level up in terms of work-rate,” he said.
Meanwhile, midfielder Jack Rodwell will miss Boxing Day’s clash with his former club Manchester City through suspension.
Rodwell collected his fifth yellow card of the season against Chelsea, to earn a subsequent one-match ban.