Sunderland boss reveals contract talks as club looks to tie down Josh Maja
Sunderland will hope to resolve Josh Maja's contract situation after the forward's blistering start to the season.
The teenager's current deal will expire at the end of the season, along with captain George Honeyman and Lynden Gooch, and manager Jack Ross is keen to tie down some of his young starts.
Sunderland's financial position has put discussions on hold in recent weeks, but Ross is confident talks between the relevant parties can now progress.
"Because of what we inherited and because of all the problems that needed resolving, the contracts that expire at the end of this season - I’m not saying they become less of a priority, but we had to put certain things in order first," said Ross.
"So really last week was the first chance we were able to sit with senior management and discuss those whose contracts are coming to an end and which we would like to keep at the club.
"Josh Maja would certainly fall into that category because as you mentioned, as a striker when you score goals regularly at any level then you begin to become attractive to other clubs.
"For Josh the decision will not only be how much he’s enjoying it but also the experience he’s getting by playing regularly."
Maja, 19, was named as the EFL Young Player of the Month for August, following in the footsteps of previous winners Dele Alli and Wilfried Zaha.
The striker scored in four of Sunderland's five league games in the opening month of the campaign, and also netted against Fleetwood in September.
"I think the award is well deserved, when you look at his age and the contribution he’s made to the season to date," added Ross
"I say this a lot, but when I came in I said I’d take each player as I found them and I didn’t know a lot about Josh when I first arrived.
"But what he had and what he showed early on for us was good and then the opportunities arose because of the circumstances."
Maja's form could be pivotal for the Black Cats' promotion hopes, especially following Charlie Wyke's long-term injury.
However, Ross has been pleased with how Maja has carried the burden up front when the club were short of options.
"He got plenty of opportunities in pre-season, in fact, probably too many because he played so many minutes because of our lack of options in the forward areas.
"But quite often with young footballers it’s not just ability, it’s timing as well. Obviously once they get there they’ve got to take the opportunity and he’s certainly done that.
"He’s a bright young man. He’s very intelligent and very polite and he wants to get better too. He is a pleasure to work with."