Lee Johnson confirms George Dobson offers as midfielder weighs up Sunderland future
George Dobson has turned down offers to leave Sunderland, but could yet move before the transfer window shuts at the end of this month.
Dobson has struggled for regular gametime under Lee Johnson, landing just one start since the new head coach took charge.
The 23-year-old was replaced at half time in that game as a COVID-19 affected Sunderland side drew 1-1 with AFC Wimbledon.
Dobson is open to the idea of looking for first-team football elsewhere, but has so far opted against taking one of the options on the table.
With 18 months left on his current contract, a loan is the most likely option were he to leave this month.
Johnson says he is more than comfortable with Dobson staying, particularly when he knows the realities of a hectic fixture schedule and the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic make a strong and deep squad a major asset for any side with realistic promotion ambitions.
"We have had conversations with George," Johnson said.
"We've just left it quite open, really.
"It's not a case of 'we don't want you'. But it's one where if he did feel he might want a move, which he did initially, he was one of the first to knock on my door and say he's not happy when he's not playing, then obviously your agent has to do his work and you look at anything that then comes.
"There have been offers come in, but they're not ones that he has wanted to do at this moment in time.
"That's OK with us, and we'll see how the rest of the window pans out.
"Like I've said, it feels as if things are changing by the hour for everyone," he added.
“It doesn't mean that George couldn't get games regularly here, but at the moment he's got a couple ahead of him in the pecking order.
"Until he gets a chance to prove himself, or goes out on loan or whatever that maybe, then of course he's got continue to train well, as he has done, and stay focused."
Dobson was a regular during his first season on Wearside, making 36 appearances across all competitions in the curtailed campaign.
He formed a key part of Phil Parkinson's preferred 3-4-3 system, first-choice in central midfield alongside Max Power for the majority of the campaign.
Parkinson's desire to find room for another striker, as well as a red card on the opening day of the league season, saw his gametime reduced at the start of the campaign.
The 23-year-old excelled on a rare start in the Papa John's Trophy against Fleetwood Town, but Josh Scowen's form has limited his role in League One.
Johnson has further strengthened his midfield options by making Carl Winchester his first signing as Sunderland head coach. The former Forest Green Rovers captain is comfortable playing as either the six or the right in Johnson's preferred shape, leaving Dobson with an even greater challenge in landing the regular senior football he is searching for.