Chris Coleman has told senior players in the final months of their contracts that no decisions will be made on their futures until the end of the season – but hopes to tie teenage hotshots Joel Asoro and Josh Maja to new deals.
Skipper John O’Shea, Billy Jones, Marc Wilson, Darron Gibson and Kazenga LuaLua – all out of contract in the summer – will have to wait to find out their fate.
Sunderland, without a win in 10 games, are five points adrift of safety and bound for League One unless there is a dramatic upturn in fortunes in the final eight games.
The uncertainty on the pitch is mirrored by the picture off it, with owner Ellis Short looking to sell the club.
Coleman says the club is not in a position to give the players an answer either way at the moment.
For now, Coleman has told his players to get on with the job in hand of trying to keep Sunderland in the Championship.
Coleman said: “Some of the senior boys whose contract is up, they’ll be thinking about it.
“From our point, we can’t say yes or no, all we can say is ‘get your head down, let’s get over the line and at the end of the season we’ll see, who owns the club, what the plan is.’
“For the older boys where you’re looking maybe at a year here or there, we can’t do that right now because we don’t know what’s going to happen.
“The uncertainty is uncomfortable, for sure.”
Coleman has warned against any of his squad downing tools in the final two months, with everyone bearing responsibility for the situation the club finds itself in.
Coleman added: “If they play well and looking good it benefits everyone. No one should be downing tools and thinking, ‘well I won’t be here next year’, you’ve got a responsibility and a job to do.
“If we did go down, God forbid, then we’re all responsible for it, so there’s no hiding. There’s still time to do something about it.”
Sunderland were quick to tie young midfielder Ethan Robson, 21, who was due to be out of contract this summer, down to a new two-year deal after breaking into the first team this season.
Strike duo Maja and Asoro are under contract until July 2019, but after the impact they’ve had this season Coleman is keen to get their futures resolved long-term.
“Obviously, Joel and Josh, we see their future as being here and the best thing for them is to stay with us and progress,” he added.
“We want to give both players long term deals, and I think both of them want to stay and play.
“They are young but they will get better, hopefully with us.”