The major Sunderland squad planning that has to begin now and where every player stands after January business
The January window proved to be a busy one for Sunderland, with Phil Parkinson putting his stamp on the squad as expected.
Nine incoming and outgoing deals were completed, Parkinson saying that the club had been ‘sensible’ in adding competition and depth in key positions in the manager’s new-look system.
It was noticeable, however, that four of the five incomings are contracted only until the end of the campaign. The contract length of the fifth, Josh Scowen, was not disclosed.
It further underlines the major transition Sunderland look set to go through this summer, with a significant number of first-team players coming to the end of their deals.
The club’s long-term direction remains uncertain, and many decisions will clearly depend on whether Sunderland secure promotion to the Championship, while Stewart Donald’s plans to sell the club offer another layer of uncertainty.
Former executive director and 6% shareholder Charlie Methven recently stated the owner’s intentions to secure a sale before the summer, to allow new owners time to assess and make the crucial decisions.
The memories of last summer will loom large, however, when Mark Campbell’s protracted talks yielded no result and Sunderland were left playing catch-up.
In the next couple of months it is imperative that they get ahead of the game, putting in place clear plans in the case of promotion or a third season in League One.
This player-by-player rundown of where things stand underlines why…..
A major concern given that he is one of the club’s biggest assets and is now in the last months of his deal.
He has utilised the free transfer superbly in the past, but has been clear that he wants to put down roots now and settle properly at Sunderland, even suggesting he would be open to finishing his career in the north east.
Has been left bemused by a lack of progress on a new deal, which was promised last summer.
News of Blackburn placing him on their long-term radar came as no surprise as he edges towards his best form.
If Sunderland aren’t promoted, he will have Championship suitors.
Has 18 months to run on his current deal.
Goalkeeper coach Lee Butler admitted he had viewed him as a possible Championship level player in the past and has impressed both managers with his attitude and ability this season.
On loan until the end of the season, Wright has made clear that he is open to extending his stay beyond the summer.
The effusive tributes from senior Bristol City figures when he made the move suggested they do not expect him to return.
Experienced and with proven pedigree, Championship clubs will be interested in a match-fit Wright, having monitored his availability throughout January.
On loan until the end of the season having struggled for regular gametime in his two seasons at Swansea City.
John has another year on his deal at the Liberty Stadium after this season.
Signed a two-year deal in the summer and has had a tough start to life on Wearside.
Not featured of late, but Parkinson insists his time at Fleetwood shows he can be a successful wing-back at this level and that he could use him as cover on the right of the back three.
Out of contract at the end of the season.
Phil Parkinson said the 32-year-old had experienced some issues settling into a new region but has been a regular of late.
Sunderland are currently waiting to discover the severity of an injury sustained in a nasty collision at Fratton Park, though initial tests have suggested the issue is not as bad as initially feared.
His athleticism, consistency and room for growth mark him out as one of Sunderland’s best additions since dropping into the third tier, and a template to follow in future windows.
Has 18 months left on his deal and so while not a priority, a player who the Black Cats would not want to let drift into the final year/six months of a deal.
Ozturk was struggling for action when he first arrived but played through the pain barrier when his manager needed him.
His attitude and consistency quickly won round the new boss, though the arrival of Bailey Wright as the main defender in the back three is a major blow.
Has bounced back plenty of times before. Another out of contract in the summer.TOM FLANAGAN
There have been regular claims of Championship interest in the defender who is out of contract in the summer.
Has impressed Parkinson and worked his way back into contention, and his versatility means he is likely to get plenty of chances to prove himself between now and the end of the season.
Finally beginning to get regular minutes at Salford City after injury blighted the start of his loan.
Jack Ross told him he would not be part of the plans this season after an inconsistent first season. Out of contract in the summer, and while Sunderland are believed to have an option to extend, they seem unlikely to trigger it as things stand.DENVER HUME
Has 18 months left on his deal and the way he battled through a tough start to the season to shine has been of the major positives on Wearside.
Ross was adamant this was a player who would play at a higher level and the new management team share that belief.
Contracted until the end of next season, Power has essentially emerged as Parkinson’s captain on the pitch, with Grant Leabitter’s gametime reduced.JOSH SCOWEN
Signed as a player who has experience of success in both the second and third tiers, and with the perfect attributes for Phil Parkinson’s style.
The length of his contract has thus far remained undisclosed.GEORGE DOBSON
Signed a three-year deal last summer with the Black Cats convinced that the experience and maturity shown early in his career meant he could grow with the club.
Desperate to break through into senior football, Robson has just six months left on his Black Cats deal.
Robson was close to rejoining Grimsby on loan on deadline day before Parkinson decided he needed cover, with Dobson close to a two-match suspension.
He has the talent and physicality to make it, but has work to do to break through before the end of the season.
He will know a tough decision could be on the horizon if he’s unable to do so.
Has spoken candidly of his desire to win a new deal this summer and is very much playing to prove he can maintain the level of consistency that Sunderland need from him.
Parkinson has been pleased with his response to his fitness demands but will want to see that continue over a long period of time.
Rewarded for his fine form at the start of last season with a long-term deal that still has two-and-a-half years to run.
An essential part of Parkinson’s plans, in this division and hopefully beyond.
Contract expires this summer but Sunderland have an option to extend for a further year and he could not have been clearer that he wants that to happen.
Nevertheless, given Championship clubs wanted to sign him as a right-back with immense potential last summer and his continued improvement, worth pondering whether it might be prudent to reward that with fresh terms.
A player who has a role to play whatever happens in the next six to eighteen months on the pitch.
Closing in a return from injury and though competition for places in attacking midfield is fierce, Parkinson insists he will get his chance.
Believes he now has the physicality to match the craft on the ball that has never been in question.
Contracted until the end of next season.
Has dropped down the pecking order in the early weeks of Parkinson’s tenure but is club captain and contracted until next summer.
Still a major presence behind the scenes and the kind of influence all managers crave.
On loan from Bristol City until the end of the season, where he remains very highly-rated.
The last player at the club on a deal signed in the Premier League era.
Wage is clearly heavily reduced from that time and his attitude has been a delight for every manager he’s worked with.
Enjoying a good spell without injury but still working his way into the side on a regular basis.
Finding a move on deadline day was a positive for Phil Parkinson, but whether Charlton Athletic are interested beyond the summer remains to be seen.
McGeady has another year to run on his Sunderland deal after his loan ends and so the issue may yet resurface.
On a short-term deal until the end of the current campaign.
Parkinson opted to sign above him ahead of options like Liam Boyce and Gary Madine in the belief that he had proven himself to be a big club, big game player, and that the need to prove himself for his club and international future would work to Sunderland’s benefit.
A potential shoulder problem for Charlie Wyke could hand him a big chance from the start soon.
His contract length has never been disclosed, but it is believed to run until the end of next season.
Currently first-choice striker for a manager who tried to sign him for Bolton Wanderers when Sunderland swooped.
With Sunderland reluctant to sanction a loan to a League One rival, Grigg now has to push for his place.
He has been short of action of late but Parkinson insists he can still be a success, saying the recent change of system will benefit him if he can earn his place back.
His long-term future clearly remains uncertain, but he is contracted until the summer of 2022