Sunderland boss Chris Coleman has this message to Joel Asoro and Josh Maja as contract talks continue

Joel Asoro celebrates his goal. Picture by Frank Reid.
Joel Asoro celebrates his goal. Picture by Frank Reid.
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Chris Coleman remains ‘optimistic’ Joel Asoro and Josh Maja will sign new contracts - and he’s told the promising duo Sunderland is the right club for them.

The pair are yet to put pen to paper on new deals offered to them, with their current contracts due to run out in the summer of 2019.

Sunderland are keen to tie them both down in a bid to bat off interest from other clubs, with the Black Cats heading for League One.

Asoro scored on his 19th birthday to give relegated Sunderland the lead at Fulham but the Black Cats couldn’t withstand a wave of pressure from the hosts.

Aleksandar Mitrovic headed the winner for Fulham, who move into second after the 2-1 win, but Coleman was keen to praise the performance of his younger players.

Coleman believes he has a good core of young players and hopes to be able to build around them next season.

Uncertainty continues to hover over the club though with a takeover no closer, despite interest from several parties, and Coleman still yet to speak with owner Ellis Short.

He does, though, hope to be able to convince Asoro and Maja their futures lie on Wearside.

Coleman said: “To be fair to Martin [Bain], we tried to do that with Josh and Joel pretty early doors.

“It’s definitely the right place for them. They’ve had a taste of it now, so they don’t want to go somewhere else and get lost in the system.

“They want to stay with us and develop, but they haven’t signed a contract yet.

“I think we just need to get back around the table and have a chat with them. You know what football is like, with young players you don’t know who is in their ears and what they’re filling

their heads with.

“They’ve got a good chance with us, they really have, and I’m pretty optimistic they’re going to stay with us.”

Asoro caught the eye against Fulham, with Maja coming on as a late sub. Paddy McNair, George Honeyman and Lynden Gooch have all become important players this campaign.

Coleman added: “There was a core of young players there that we can work with, and we’ve got Goochy to come back into that too.

“There’s definitely a core there – people like McNair – and that’s something to work from, but until we know who is going to be in charge and what the plan is going to be, we can’t start

building and drawing a line under things.

“We’re a League One team now – let’s start putting a team together that can get promoted. But we can’t start doing that because of the uncertainty above us. Nothing has changed.”

Coleman wants to stay at Sunderland to lead the promotion push back to the Championship.

“We are a League One team. We will have the biggest support, be the team to beat, blah, blah blah.

“It is not about that, it is about having a plan, a vision, creating an identity and an environment where it is vibrant, full of players who want to work hard and fight for each other over 46

games, then we have a chance to do something.

“I know I can create that platform, I have created it before but I need some tools and some help, we all do.

“We can’t do anything until we know what is happening above us.”