Jack Ross reveals the plans in place as Sunderland await Josh Maja's contract decision
Jack Ross has revealed the latest on Josh Maja's contract talks - with plans in place as the club await his decision.
Ross revealed last week that the 19-year-old has been given until January 4 to respond to the club's final contract offer as speculation continues to mount over his future.
Fellow youngster Lynden Gooch has already signed a new deal at the club and Sunderland are now hopeful that Maja - who has been linked with sides in the Premier League and Championship over recent weeks - will follow suit.
The Black Cats' top scorer is set to see his current deal expire in the summer and the club have offered him improved terms in a bid to keep him on Wearside.
But with the deadline moving closer, Ross is still none the wiser as to whether Maja will remain at the Stadium of Light.
However, he says it is far from a given that the teenager will turn down the offer despite being linked with the likes of Celtic, Tottenham and Manchester City - with the club yet to receive any offers.
Indeed, he was keen to reiterate that the striker will remain part of his plans for as long as he remains at the club - regardless of any contract decisions.
"I think it's important to emphasise that the deadline wasn't set by me as the manager," he said.
"As a club, that's a club decision and it's taken because we want to create a model where we can understand where we're at and what is needed.
"Although football is very short-term, there needs to be medium-term and longer term plans in place.
"That deadline for his final contract offer is there, but should that pass it doesn't change anything from my perspective.
"For as long as he's a Sunderland player and performs in the way he has done this season, he'll always be part of my plans.
"There's no update other than that.
"People will then believes it is a given that he will leave, but I couldn't say either way.
"I would love him to commit."
While it is far from a certainty that Maja will depart the club, Ross has plans in place to deal with such a blow.
The January window gives Sunderland time to source a replacement should one be required, and the Black Cats' chief has contingency plans at the ready - and will be keen to act swiftly if the situation arises.
"If you are ever going to face upheaval in your squad that you don't want, naturally you would like as much time as possible to deal with that upheaval and put plans in place," he admitted.
"The plan is in place, but in terms of being ready to action that plan - it's a fair point to say that if you are going to lose a player then you want it to be earlier rather than later in the window."