Lee Johnson's clear verdict on Aiden McGeady's Sunderland future and what happens next
Lee Johnson says he wants to keep Aiden McGeady at the club next season, but says it is dependent on the player finding a solution with Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman.
McGeady has been an integral part of Johnson’s plans since returning to the first-team fold in December, absent only for the briefest period due to injury.
The 34-year-old is out of contract this summer and there had been fears that he would not be able to start in the crunch second leg against Lincoln City on Saturday afternoon.
The winger is one starting appearance away from triggering an automatic one-year extension.
Sunderland were reluctant to activate that clause, given his earning status and the uncertainty over what division the club will play in next season.
Johnson all but confirmed McGeady had waived that right in order to play on Friday afternoon, confirming that should he start, no 12-month extension will be triggered.
Speakman will lead negotiations at the end of the campaign and Johnson hopes a solution is found.
“There have been contractual conversations regarding his future,” he said.
"For me on the football side of it, I would love to keep Aiden McGeady next season because I think he is a fantastic player and we get on extremely well.
"But it's between him and the sporting director.
“All I can do is be really genuine and honest and sound with the player, deliver the information that’s given to me and prove to him that I want him to be an important part of our plans moving forward.”
While keen not to be drawn on the specifics of McGeady’s contract situation, Johnson all but confirmed that the player had been key in driving a short-term solution to suit all parties and allow him to play to his part in trying to overhaul a two-goal deficit on Saturday.
“It's all good news," Johnson had said.
"I have had the option to play Aiden McGeady from the start in every game, and that will continue to happen.
"McGeady is available to start tomorrow.
"It's difficult for me to reveal contract scenarios because it's not my place, it's not fair on the player.
"All I'll say is that Aiden has been top drawer throughout my tenure, he understands the situation, and he has proved his class yet again.
"He goes into this game wanting to do well for the football club, and for me it cements him being a quality human and a quality professional that I have the option to pick him."
For his part, McGeady said in the aftermath of Sunderland’s 1-1 draw with Peterborough United in March that he hoped to stay at the club.
"Of course I do,” he said.
“I never wanted to leave Sunderland last January, I wanted to stay. That's why I didn't leave in the summer.
“I'm happy here and I want to be a part of the team that goes back up and then part of the team that maybe goes back up again - that's the dream, for everyone here.”