Five out-of-contract Sunderland players '“ what does future hold for them?

Sunderland's playing squad is set for a major overhaul as Sam Allardyce looks to transform the club from perennial strugglers into a more stable Premier League outfit.

Monday, 30th May 2016, 9:39 am
Updated Monday, 30th May 2016, 10:48 am
Sunderland striker Steven Fletcher

He has promised major changes, with several players heading in and several set to leave Wearside.

The first part of the process will be to confirm which – if any – of those players out of contract will be offered new terms.

Wes Brown

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We take a look at five of those players to see what’s in store for them:

Wes Brown:

Brown is out of contract and set to leave the Stadium of Light after a five-year stint – but don’t expect him to hang up his boots just yet.

The former Manchester United and England defender may be 36 but as previously revealed to the Echo, he plans to carry on playing next season.

Steve Harper

Brown said: “Until the knees can’t carry on, I’ll try to play as long as possible.”

The ex-England international penned a one-year contract extension last summer, with a view to being limited to a back-up role.

Expected to be released, what are his options?

Brown could drop down into the lower leagues – or even non-league – and a club closer to his North West roots could be on the cards.

Wes Brown

Brown, though, does have one eye on a different future role, with the 36-year-old spending time in Northern Ireland last week undertaking his Uefa ‘A’ coaching qualification.

Steve Harper:

Easington-born Harper was signed in January as third-choice stopper behind Jordan Pickford and Vito Mannone after the departure of Costel Pantilimon to Watford.

Out of contract this summer, Harper could yet be offered terms to remain on Wearside in a player/coaching capacity.

Steve Harper

When he signed, Allardyce spoke highly of Harper, who made almost 200 appearances during 10 years with Newcastle United.

Allardyce said: “He has vast experience at the top level and that can only be beneficial to Vito and Jordan as they continue to develop.”

The chances of Harper ever making a first team appearance for Sunderland are slim given he is now 41.

But he could yet be asked to stay on and assist goalkeeping coach Adrian Tucker.

Danny Graham:

Out of contract and set for a fresh start, Graham is a wanted man.

Scottish giants Celtic and Rangers are both tracking the 30-year-old striker, with several Championship sides also keen.

Graham worked with Rangers boss Mark Warburton at Watford, while he worked with new Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers at Watford and Swansea City.

Wigan Athletic, Preston North End and Birmingham City are among those keeping tabs on Graham’s situation.

Graham has been on loan at Blackburn Rovers he is keen on a return to Ewood Park, although much will depend on their new manager.

His time at Sunderland has been a major disappointment, with Graham netting just once in 41 appearances after arriving in a £5million move from Swansea.

But his future looks brighter.

Steven Fletcher:

The Scotland international isn’t expected to be short of potential suitors when his contract expires.

Celtic are thought to be the main suitors, with the Scottish Champions long-time admirers of Fletcher, who has spent the second half of the season on loan at Marseille.

And the Echo understands Fletcher is equally tempted to play for the SPL champions at some stage of his career.

Celtic were interested in Fletcher – who cost Sunderland £12million three-and-a-half years ago – during January but were unable to match the frontman’s wages.

A summer move back to the south of France cannot be ruled out either but the likelihood is Fletcher, 29, will be heading back home.

There was interest though from China in the January transfer window, with Shanghai Shenhua linked.

Talks over a new Sunderland deal were put on hold until the club’s top flight status was known.

But he was deemed surplus to requirements under Allardyce and a fresh start is likely.

Valentin Roberge:

Forgotten man Roberge’s time on Wearside has not been a happy one.

Roberge’s last first-team appearance came in August 2014, with the Black Cats unable to shift the French centre-half from the books since then.

The 28-year-old’s contract expires this summer, but there have been reports in France that his deal had been terminated early.

Roberge – who made just 10 Premier League appearances – is likely to head back to France in a bid to revive his stuttering career, having had a loan spell at Reims.