GUS Poyet has begun his clear-out at Sunderland, with Andrea Dossena having already left the club.
Loanee Ki Sung-Yueng has been allowed to head off to South Korea before the season’s end and discussions are being held with players whose contracts are up.
Former Liverpool full-back Dossena joined the Black Cats on a free transfer last summer after Fiorentina allowed the 32-year-old to look for a new club.
The defender was involved in 11 of Sunderland’s games this season, seven of them in the league, picking up two yellow cards and one red – the sending-off coming when he stamped on Hull’s David Meyler in November’s defeat at the KC Stadium.
Italian Dossena had had to wait until October 27 for his debut – when he started in the 2-1 win over Newcastle United at the Stadium of Light – but his opportunities dried up after the signing of fellow left-back Marcos Alonso on loan in January.
He made only one more league appearance after Alonso’s arrival – in March’s 2-1 defeat at Liverpool – after the Spaniard had been sent off in Sunderland’s previous game, against Norwich City.
With Alonso the clear first choice at left-back and Ondrej Celustka, Phil Bardsley and even Jack Colback all pushing Dossena in the pecking order, Poyet decided the Italian was surplus to requirements.
And an amicable agreement was reached between the player and the club over the defender’s early departure several weeks ago.
Poyet said: “There was less of a clear role for Andrea to play after the arrival of Marcos and we thought it was in the best interests of everyone, including the player himself, not to keep him at the club if he had little chance of involvement.”
Ki was kept on for longer.
After medical experts confirmed the seriousness of the on-loan Swansea midfielder’s tendonitis, the South Korean international was keen to return home, but Poyet kept him at the Academy of Light a little while longer.
“I understood what he wanted, but I was worried about what message that would send out to the rest of the group at a time when we were still battling to be safe,” said Poyet.
“I felt I couldn’t let anyone important go until we were over the line.”
Sunderland’s stunning victory at Manchester United last weekend, which pushed the club to within a whisker of safety, was enough for Poyet to feel he could allow Ki to leave with his best wishes.
And after Wednesday’s victory over West Brom, Poyet will waste no time in dealing with all those whose contracts are coming to an end.
Phil Bardsley, Jack Colback, Seb Larsson, Carlos Cuellar, Craig Gardner and Keiren Westwood will all see their deals will expire at the end of next month.
On top of that, season-long loans for Ki, Fabio Borini and Ondrej Celustka are coming to an end while the deals of January signings Marcos Alonso, Santiago Vergini and Oscar Ustari are also up.
All talks were put on hold after those held with Colback and Bardsley came to a dead end some time ago.
But Poyet is set to resume them now the outcome of the season is settled.
His first priorities are to meet with director of football Lee Congerton to look at the targets already drawn up on the assumption the club would be staying in the Premier League.
Next, he will progress arrangements with pre-season friendlies which had been left in limbo when the club’s fate was uncertain.
But Poyet says he wants to resolve contract issues quickly for the sake of the players themselves as well as the club.
“I think it is only right that you try to deal with the out-of-contract players as quickly as you can,” he told the Echo.
“Some will have ideas about what might or might not happen, but it is important to be clear about things as soon as we can so that things can move forward.”
* Don’t miss tomorrow’s online Football Echo – the last edition of the season. It’s available from around 6.45pm.