Sunderland Q&A: Ndong, Josh Maja's contract, January and how this squad could develop

Our writers held their weekly Sunderland Q&A on Friday morning.

Friday, 28th September 2018, 1:21 pm
Updated Friday, 28th September 2018, 1:27 pm
Sunderland striker Josh Maja is in sparkling form

All the big issues were discussed ahead of Saturday's clash with Coventry City.

You can watch the full video above or read Phil's verdicts below...

Sunderland striker Josh Maja is in sparkling form

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On Didier Ndong...

The big difference between Didier and Papy is that Didier probably had a far more significant value.

It wasn't really a big financial gamble with Djilobodji whereas with Ndong it is, because clubs were bidding 7 million euros for him not so long ago.

Sunderland believe that if Didier joins a new club that they'll be due compensation under FIFA rules. That will obviously be an arduous process and it is a risk but the club felt they needed to make a stand, to draw a line under it and allow people to focus on the positives at the club.

It is the right decision but one with risks.

Josh Maja's contract and form....

Stewart Donald spoke candidly about Sunderland's financial limitations so we don't know what they're able to offer.

Perhaps the decisions on Didier Ndong and Papy Djilobodji will have changed that.

Maja himself is very grounded, he backs himself massively and definitely sees himself as a Premier League player in the future. But he's smart enough to know that there a lot of 19-year-old's in football not playing, not getting a chance to prove themselves.

There's no substitute for that so I think he's very genuine when he says he wants to stay.

The number of goals he's scored is a bit of a surprise but he's always had so much ability. While Joel Asoro looked more ready for first team football in the sense that he had so much pace, Maja had the movement, the first touch and probably a bit more intelligence in games.

The question was always the physical one but we've seen that his instincts are so good, he can embarrass these experienced defenders.

On an unchanged team for Coventry...

I think that he will go that way.

The only two likely changes would be Oviedo and Power.

But Hume was excellent against Rochdale and Jack Ross has already admitted that he was very unlucky to miss out at Burton. So it would be surprising if he was taken out for a second time.

With Max, he hasn't played for a month and there's a couple of big games coming up. He's a great option from the bench if he doesn't start.

On 5,000 fans heading to Coventry....

Fans have talked a lot about the portrayal of Sunderland in the last few years and how a lot of it has been unfair.

So we said at the start of the season that it felt like a big deal, the cameras being there for the Charlton game, the new seats, the big crowd.

It feels like that again this weekend.

It is such a big statement to show that Sunderland are on their way back.

Could Sunderland's squad thrive next year and what do they need in January?

The likes of Lynden Gooch showed towards the end of last season that they were good enough for that level. George Honeyman scored eight goals.

Lee Cattermole and Josh Maja look good enough at the moment.

Players like Jack Baldwin, it seems staggering he's never played above League One. Likewise Jon McLaughlin. Tom Flanagan has played a lot of games at Championship level.

So there's a core there, but obviously you'd need five or six players to be properly competitive in that league. January will be interesting because the chairman has not hidden away from saying that the wage bill needs to come down further.

So there players here who are good enough for the long-term, but it is hard to predict what will happen in January.

Clearly they would be open to offers on certain players.