Ross Stewart's contract and four other approaching decisions Sunderland will face this season
Sunderland have been quick to agree long-term contracts with some of their younger players over the last year – while there will be more decisions to make for the Black Cats hierarchy in the next 12 months.
Last season Sunderland waited until the end of the season to offer new deals to Lynden Gooch, Patrick Roberts and Bailey Wright, while it was still unclear which division the club would be playing in.
Whether they look to take a more proactive approach during this campaign remains to be seen, with a handful of senior players into the final 12 months of their contracts.
Here are the players who fall into that category:
While Sunderland have the option to extend the striker’s contract by an extra year (until 2024), they won’t want it to get to that stage.
In the aftermath of the Black Cats’ promotion in May, Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman told The Echo the club would hold talks with Stewart, 25, over a new deal, yet nothing has been agreed since.
Speakman was asked about the situation again at the start of September and expressed there are ‘ongoing, positive conversations.’
“We want it to be right for Ross and the football club. I'm sure that there's a sensible conclusion,” said Speakman.
Still, while a thigh injury has halted his progress, Stewart’s performances in the Championship will have attracted more attention.
Pritchard had just turned 28 when he signed a two-year contract at Sunderland in the summer of 2021, yet later admitted he had lost some of his love for football at that stage.
His career has been revived on Wearside and, after playing an important role in the club’s promotion last season, the playmaker has started every match in the Championship this term.
Pritchard’s enthusiasm and desire to close the ball down has led to him being substituted in the second half of matches.
Still, the 29-year-old is proving he can still perform well at this level.
The Black Cats captain is also showing his value this season.
After Sunderland missed out on transfer targets in the summer, Evans became an even more important figure in the holding midfield role, while the club will look to strengthen in January.
Until then, Evans is likely to remain a regular start following a strong start to the campaign.
The 32-year-old’s position in the squad may be different come the end of the season, though, when the club have had another window to recruit.
Batth has been the dominant figure in Sunderland’s backline this season, after signing an 18-month contract with the Black Cats in January.
The 31-year-old offers experience (with over 250 Championship appearances) and aerial presence in a youthful squad.
Clearly there is a need to have more mobile defensive options alongside Batth, yet the centre-back knows his role in the side and has performed it well.
Sunderland have an option to recall the 29-year-old from a loan spell at Shrewsbury in January, yet there would still be doubts over his game time.
Winchester chose to leave in the summer as he wanted to play regular first-team football.
Whether he plays for Sunderland again or not, he will be remembered as someone who embraced his time at the club.