SUNDERLAND defender John Egan is considering his next step after confirming his release by the Black Cats.
The Echo reported last month how Egan was set to join the likes of fellow youngsters Louis Laing, Jordan Laidler, Alex Gorrin and Adam Mitchell in leaving the Stadium of Light this summer when his contract expires.
Sunderland are yet to formally announce Egan’s departure, but the centre-half admits he has been told by Under-21 coach Kevin Ball that his contract is not being renewed.
It’s a sad end to the 21-year-old’s once promising Sunderland career after he made the first-team bench under both Steve Bruce and Martin O’Neill.
But a double leg break sustained during a loan spell at Bradford City kept Egan sidelined for 10 months and he was never able to catch the eye of either Paolo Di Canio or Gus Poyet.
Egan is currently on loan with Southend and the Shrimpers are interested in signing the Republic of Ireland U21 international permanently after he has helped them make the League Two play-offs.
But there are a host of other Football League clubs also keeping tabs on Egan, who is biding his time before deciding his future.
“It was just a phonecall from Kevin,” said Egan.
“I can’t say I was surprised at the news by that stage.
“I’d trained regularly with the first-team under the two previous managers when I was fit, so I knew this manager had made up his mind on me when I wasn’t even doing that this season.
“I was frozen out. There was no interaction with the manager and I found that very different.
“Right now, it’s all about getting Southend promoted and then I’ll think about my next move.
“This doesn’t change my belief that I can play at the highest level. If I didn’t think that, I wouldn’t stay in England.”
Egan’s determination and attitude saw him become captain of Sunderland U21s before earning him loan moves to Crystal Palace, Sheffield United and Bradford.
But he has enjoyed his longest run of first-team football at Southend and hopes that proves to be the first step in his ambitions to return to the Premier League.
“I’ve played 13 club games in a row, the longest stretch of matches in my career,” he added.
“Very few youngsters go straight into the Premier League these days with the amount of money around and foreign recruits.
“It’s a long road and I’ve had some bumps but a lot worse things can happen in life.”