Lee Johnson explains exactly why play-off success is in the best interests of every Sunderland player - regardless of contract status

Lee Johnson insists that every Sunderland player is motivated to secure the club's promotion to the Championship in the upcoming play-off campaign.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 6:00 am

The Black Cats have a number of players whose contracts are currently set to expire in the summer, though in some cases the Black Cats are believed to have the option of an automatic one-year extension.

With a summer rebuild under the club's new executive team likely regardless of how the play-off contests pan out, there have been questions over whether that could impact the mood of the group.

Johnson says there are number of different scenarios at play within his squad, but says in every case promotion is the best scenario for the individuals involved.

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Sunderland head coach Lee Johnson
Sunderland head coach Lee Johnson

He also insisted that he has not seen any signs of distraction or a lack of motivation in training over the past week.

"Every agenda will be different but their will absolutely be motivation [to win promotion] in each one," he said.

"Some players will be out of contract and are desperate to stay, and have a better chance of doing that if we succeed.

"Some are under a contract that will increase if we were to get promoted.

"Some are on the same wage either way but are desperate to be part of a successful team and want to get some more silverware.

"So for me, all that motivation almost comes secondary. As a player, you actually don't think about that as much as people think you do. I think that's specifically at these levels.

"There's, dare I say it, a bit more honesty at these levels.

"The entourage a player has tends to be a bit less influential in those stuations. Often with international players there's an international agenda to it all, as well.

"I think we're honestly in a good place.

"I think I would recognise or spot anybody that was pulling out of tackles, or an alternative agenda, or anything like that.

"There's been none of that."

Johnson says that as well as securing a better future for themselves, whether it be on Wearside or elsewhere, the players can also ensure they write another piece of history by winning promotion.

Sunderland won the Papa John's Trophy at Wembley in February this year and should they manage to get past Lincoln City over the next two legs, the opportunity would be there to land an even bigger prize at the end of the month.

Johnson insists that is a significant carrot for the players, over and above the short-term impact of securing promotion back to the second tier.

"This is their vehicle, this competition is their vehicle to go and be successful," he said.

"You can return as a legend, a hero, in ten, fifteen years as someone who was part of a successful Sunderland team.

"When you have that success you often end up with friendships that can last for life, as well.

"Everybody then has a better opportunity to do more for themselves and their families, whether it's here or eslewhere."

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