Phil Parkinson on Sunderland's looming contract decisions and his main priority following the January window
Phil Parkinson expects to begin planning for a busy summer period in the coming weeks, but says his immediate focus is on integrating his January signings into the first team set-up.
As highlighted by the Echo this week, 14 players will see their Sunderland deals expire this summer.
Key decisions are clearly likely to depend in part on how the final months of the campaign pan out, and what division the Black Cats find themselves playing in next season.
There are some key performers whose future needs to be settled before then, however.
Goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin is one such asset, for example.
The Scot has highlighted his desire to finish his career on Wearside but is attracting interest from the Championship as he enters the final month of his deal.
Chairman Stewart Donald had signalled his intention to find a resolution after the summer window shut, but McLaughlin revealed a tthe beginning of this year that the situation had not been revisited.
“We wanted to get the transfer window out of the way and I'm pleased that it has closed,” Parkinson said.
“You spend so much time talking to agents, watching games on your laptop, watching players. You have meeting after meeting, but I'm pleased with how we've come out of it.
“The job now is to integrate new players into the way we're playing, get them up to speed in terms of match sharpness,” he added.
“Those two factors are very important and we've been working on that with the new players.
“In terms of those out of contract, I'm sure the Chairman will sit down with myself and the staff in the coming weeks so that we can discuss that.”
The situation is of course complicated by ongoing uncertainty at boardroom level.
Donald is looking to sell the club before the summer and Charlie Methven recently suggested no contract decisions would be made until that issue was settled.
Nevertheless, given the obvious impact of the failed takeover talks with Mark Campbell last summer, there is an obvious need to prepared for the event of promotion or otherwise under the current regime.