Sunderland boss on Didier Ndong, Ruiter v Steele and whether squad will be stronger come September 1

Sunderland midfielder Didier Ndong.
Sunderland midfielder Didier Ndong.
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Didier Ndong has been linked with a move to West Ham United but Simon Grayson has confirmed there has been no bids for him.

As reported by the Echo, Ndong is being watched by the Hammers but despite reports they are yet to firm up their interest.

Simon Grayson.

Simon Grayson.

The transfer window doesn't close until next Thursday though and Grayson has again stressed that the club is vulnerable to bids for their star players.

Here's a round-up of what the Sunderland boss had to say at his press conference at the Academy of Light ahead of the trip to Barnsley.

Approach for Didier Ndong?

Grayson said: "Not that I'm aware of. There is a lot of speculation with everybody. We have been linked with ins and outs. It won't be until next Thursday night that we will have a clearer idea of where will we be.

Simon Grayson.

Simon Grayson.

"People can speculate but you can't comment on things until they have been decided, ins or outs.

"He is a good player, hence why he is at this club and the value we paid for him. He wasn't going to play [against Carlisle], Jack Rodwell was but he was ill, otherwise he would have been rested.

"Didier is young and enthusiastic, he is a talented player hence why we want to keep him."

Replacements lined up in case any star players leave?

Grayson said: "Yes. That is part and parcel of our job. I have a list on my desk of people and that list is updated every day when new people become available.

"We have got plenty of targets in every positions. Players could be bought or sold in other position so we would be foolish not to be prepared. We are not foolish.

"There is a knock-on affect, the Premier League get their deals done, players become surplus to requirements and then everybody is scrambling to sign the talented players.

"It is a domino affect. We are in the market for good players. We want to keep good players. That is the same for everybody."

Stronger come September 1?

"Every club is vulnerable. Not just us. Southampton. Liverpool etc.

"We are in the same market as everybody, any player could be bought or sold and other clubs are vulnerable to us.

"Will we be stronger? I like to think we would be but I can't promise that."

On wheeling and dealing to strengthen the squad?

Grayson said: "That is one of the reasons I was brought in. I'm used to dealing with not-so-big budgets but my recruitment has always been good and I know the levels of football.

"Any options have to be right for us and the right value too. That is key. We won't pay over the odds.

"It is something I'm used to doing, recruit properly and develop, make the players better."

Sunderland will be backed by more than 4,000 fans at Barnsley:

Grayson said: "It can inspire you, motivate you.

"You can sense a bit of unity coming back as a football club and hopefully we are going in the right direction.

"Come Saturday teatime hopefully those 4,000 plus supporters will be cheering."

Robbin Ruiter v Jason Steele?

Grayson said: "We want competition right across the pitch.

"Robbin did well pre-season and the other night. Jason has made some valuable saves too, it is nice to have that competition for places.

"Goalkeepers understand they can be in the reserves for a while but once they are in the team they can be in a long time. You can't chop it around too often."