Sunderland boss praises Lamine Kone as January switch looks increasingly unlikely

Kone is nearing a return to full fitness
Kone is nearing a return to full fitness
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Chris Coleman has strongly suggested that Lamine Kone will be a part of his first team plans should a January move not materialise.

Sunderland are yet to field a bid for the 28-year-old who has aspirations of returning to the Premier League.

That could change in the coming days but as he works his way back to full fitness it appears unlikely. The centre-back returned to action in an U23's game against Leicester City earlier this week and Coleman has praised his attitude since his arrival.

The Sunderland boss says Kone has worked hard to return to fitness and shown the right attitude to make an impression should he stay past the closing of the winter window.

He told safc.com: “That’s how you behave and that’s how you act.

“Alright, we know Lamine probably sees his future somewhere else but what I’ve said all the way along is that I can understand that.

“As long as when players are with us they are respectful and they behave accordingly, and if they wear the jersey and want to do their best while they are here, then I haven’t got a problem with that.

“Of course, we’ve seen that with Lamine and he’s trained very hard, and like said you said it’s nice to see a senior professional behaving in that manner because the younger players are always looking to see how it should be done – and having that type of respect is exactly how it’s done.

“He came through the game with no problems at all, so he’s coming along nicely.”

However, with Sunderland keeping five clean sheets in 11 games and new signing Jake Clarke-Salter impressing in his early appearances, Coleman has warned Kone that it will not be easy to get into the starting XI.

Coleman said: "In fairness, there’s a defensive shape there and personnel which had no clean sheets in 16 games, but in the next 11 games there’s been five clean sheets so defensively our boys have done okay.

“It’s not automatic and you have to work and fight for your place, and if they keep on doing what they’re doing it’s hard for anyone to get back into it, and that – fighting for places in the team – is what I want.

“I want people knocking on my door asking, ‘what can I do and why aren’t I playing’, and the more of that the better for us.”

Kone has not featured for Sunderland since the 2-1 defeat to bristol City at the end of October.