Lee Johnson's clear message as he responds to claims of a summer move for Wolves youngster Dion Sanderson

Lee Johnson says Sunderland would 'of course' be interested in striking a permanent deal for Dion Sanderson this summer, but says it will be up to Wolves to decide whether the youngster is available.

Thursday, 25th February 2021, 8:00 am

Reports in the national media on Wednesday said that the Black Cats were 'exploring the possibility' of signing the 21-year-old at the end of the season.

Sanderson is becoming an increasingly key player for Sunderland's new Head Coach, and has been an integral part of their recent resurgence.

Johnson believes Sanderson has a big future in the game and the Black Cats would no doubt be one of many clubs interested were he available this summer.

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Sunderland youngster Dion Sanderson

The defender himself has previously said that his ambition is to represent his hometown club in the Premier League.

"It's a difficult one to talk about," Johnson said.

"We love Dion and he's ours for the short term, but obviously part of our job is to help develop him for Wolves if they deem that they want him to stay on.

"We wish him all the best [with that] of course.

"Of course, if not, then a club like our would of course be interested in a young talent like Dion."

Sanderson's commanding display against Fleetwood Town on Tuesday night drew special praise from Johnson, who said it was testament to the improvements he is making in his game.

"That's what we expect [from him]," Johnson said.

"We've worked hard, he's worked hard.

"He's a good player and if he makes a mistake he can bounce back, he negotiated having a yellow card extremely well and was very calm and composed on the ball.

"I think aerially he was dominant today and that's not something you would necessarily say is his strong point so those improvements in his performance are really nice to see."

Wolves had been considering recalling Sanderson from his loan in January after a disappointing lack of minutes in the first weeks of his time on Wearside.

Johnson quickly identified him as a potentially key player after arriving and convinced the Premier League club he was best served staying at Sunderland.

A message from the Football Clubs Editor

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Sunderland AFC coverage 365 days a year.

This depth of coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to, please consider taking out a subscription to our new sports-only package here.

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor