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Didier Ndong yet to return to Sunderland despite arriving back in the North East

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Didier Ndong has returned to the North East - but is yet to report to the Academy of Light.

Pictures emerged over the weekend of the 24-year-old Sunderland midfielder arriving at Newcastle Airport after being AWOL since the start of pre-season training.

Didier Ndong is yet to return to Sunderland

Didier Ndong is yet to return to Sunderland

Monday was a scheduled day off for all Sunderland players following the 4-1 triumph over Rochdale.

The players are due to return to training on Tuesday to begin preparations for the trip to Coventry but whether Ndong, who is reported to be basing himself on Tyneside, makes his long-awaited return remains to be seen, though it is believed that would be highly unlikely.

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Jack Ross has previously stated that the club's record signing will not form part of his plans and Sunderland officials remain hopeful of a resolution to the saga soon.

Fellow wantaway Papy Djilobodji was served notice his contract was to be terminated earlier this month.

Ross is yet to meet Ndong, who failed to return for pre-season training in June as he looked to seal a move away from Sunderland.

The Gabon international made no secret of his desire to leave the club and was the subject of interest from Torino, Leganes and Benfica during the summer months.

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But reports from his homeland over the weekend suggested Ndong was willing to return to the Black Cats and play his part in their promotion push - with suggestions that he would even take a pay cut in order to stay on Wearside.

The report, from news outlet iSport, suggested that a meeting had been arranged with a representative of Ndong, a member of the PFA and Ross - but the Sunderland boss confirmed that this was not the case.

"There has been no dialogue with me," he said, speaking after the win over Rochdale.

"I did read a report that one of his representatives had been in contact with me, that is not the case."