Chris Coleman lifts lid on Lewis Grabban's Sunderland exit ahead of Aston Villa return

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Sunderland boss Chris Coleman has lifted the lid on Lewis Grabban's January exit ahead of his return to Wearside with Aston Villa.

Coleman has stated Grabban - who remains Sunderland's top scorer - didn't speak to him about leaving but instead spoke with chief executive Martin Bain, once he'd cancelled his accommodation.

Grabban's season-long loan spell was cut short in January when the player returned to parent club AFC Bournemouth ahead of moving back out on loan to promotion-chasing Aston Villa.

There was a clause in the deal to allow the loan to be cut short provided it was activated during a short window in January.

* LIVE Sunderland AFC blog - Chris Coleman press conference plus latest team and injury news ahead of Aston Villa

Grabban, 30, bagged 12 goals in the first half of the season for Sunderland but Coleman insists he can't be worrying about the former striker, with his full focus on ensuring Sunderland are firing on all cylinders.

Lewis Grabban joined Aston Villa on loan in January.

Lewis Grabban joined Aston Villa on loan in January.

Coleman said: "I'm not worried about Lewis Grabban. I am more worried about Sunderland and us performing.

"Villa have a host of talent. I know some of their players really well. I am not worried about one player. We have to be right mentally."

When pressed on Grabban's departure, Coleman added: "He actually never came to me, he went to see our chief executive.

"As we understood it he had cancelled his accommodation, then had a conversation with our chief executive to say his time here was up.

"I didn't have a problem. Lewis has to look after Lewis Grabban. If he has got opportunities to play elsewhere to play for teams fighting for promotion.

"But I never had that conversation with him, he never came to see me, it was with Martin [Bain].

"It has gone, finished. I said all the way along, the boys we have now want to be here.

"Whether we play bad or good, they want to be here and will be the boys that will keep us up, not the lads that have left and gone on to do what they want to do.

"We have what we have got, the boys want to be here and I am happy to work with them."

Coleman has been open and honest with supporters since he took charge at the Stadium of Light and has praised the fans for their backing.

Coleman added: "Look at Saturday we took 2,000 fans down to the capital, a long way to travel. Brilliant. That is the type of club this is.

"You can't disappoint them. If you come here you have to have a bit of courage and personality and be prepared that sometimes you will get criticised.

"If you can't handle that, you can't be here. If you please them, then it is a great place to be.

"Sunderland is probably not for everyone, it is not easy, especially where we are. I am the eternal optimist, what would it be like if the stadium was full and things are positive?

"That is a possibility, people think I am crazy and mad, it is a possibility down the line."

Sunderland, four points adrift at the foot of the Championship, welcome Steve Bruce's Villa side to the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night.