Sunderland boss Lee Johnson has this response to latest Dion Sanderson transfer reports
Lee Johnson has urged Dion Sanderson to stay focused on his football as speculation over his future continues.
Reports this week claimed that Sunderland had opened talks over a £2 million summer deal for the 21-year-old.
Johnson said that was 'news to him'.
The Head Coach is in regular contact with Seyi Olofinjana, who is the Loans Pathway Manager at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Johnson has previously said that the Black Cats would 'of course' be interested in signing the youngster, if available.
For his part, Sanderson has said that he still hopes to break into the first-team picture at his hometown club.
The centre-half has become a vital player for Johnson during the current unbeaten run and the Head Coach is keen to ensure that he maintains his recent performance level.
"Obviously, we're always in contact with Wolves about Dion," Johnson said.
"He's a Wolves player so it's a difficult one to talk about.
"As a player, you want to play at the highest level for the longest amount of time. Even the questioning line to Dion is difficult for me because I'm trying to keep him concentrated and focused on the process, and not putting too many things in his head.
"Obviously I understand why people have got to do their jobs and ask him the question, but at the same time it's a lesson for me in terms of putting him in front of the media.
"Everyone knows how pleased we are with Dion and just how well he has done.
"We will just have to see. Right now, we've very happy he's here, very happy to have him and we're trying to keep the focus solely on football."
A number of Premier League and Championship clubs have been credited with an interest in Sanderson, who will have one year left on his current deal in the summer.
Johnson is eager to focus on the short term for now and says that excelling in the remaining 11 games will leave Sanderson in the strongest possible position when any decisions are made this summer.
"Exactly that," Johnson said.
"In one sense it's a positive that people are talking about it because they wouldn't be if he wasn't doing extremely well.
"It's full credit to him, and also the staff and the players around him that they're getting the best out of him."
Speaking to the Wolves website earlier this week, Sanderson said: “I would be really chuffed if we do get promoted.
"If you know Sunderland's history, they've been through a lot in the last ten years, so it would mean a lot to me and, more importantly, to the club, the players who have been there for a while, and the fans.
“We have a massive fanbase as well; the last ten years have been difficult for the club, from being in the Premier League to being relegated and relegated again. It would be class to secure promotion with them.
“We have a lot of games coming up, and I'm concentrating on what I'm doing on the field; anything else is not really the focus for the time being.”