SUNDERLAND are preparing to clear the decks at Academy level with a raft of young talent set to leave.
England Under 20 international Blair Adams – allowed to convert his loan to Coventry City into a permanent move last week – leads the exodus.
But plenty of other players who have broken through into the second string in recent years are also on their way out.
Former Arsenal wide-man Roarie Deacon was only contracted to Sunderland until the end of 2012 and his contract has not been renewed.
Midfielder Adam Reed (right) is understood to currently be in talks with Portsmouth over a move there.
James Armstrong, son of former Sunderland midfielder Gordon Armstrong, has left and joined Hull City.
And Craig Lynch and Ryan Noble were both alerted about potential loan moves to Holland.
The loan moves to Holland will not go ahead but Lynch is believed to be considering a trial and potential full-time move to Sheffield United.
Both Lynch and Noble remain under contract but their Sunderland futures look uncertain to say the least.
The decisions have partially been forced upon the club by the introduction of the new Under 21 development sides this season in place of the traditional Reserve team squads.
Both Adams, Reed and Deacon would have been too old next season to be part of the development squads – as will Noble – and would have had to play in Under 21 games as over-age players.
But a key part of the change-around is manager Martin O’Neill’s desire to fast-track through young talent that could potentially play a part in the first-team future while allowing players to leave who are not really putting pressure on the first-team squad.
It was the same process that former boss Steve Bruce instituted when he first arrived at the club – both managers believing that if a place can’t be envisaged in the first team somewhere along the line for a young player, they should move on
Explaining his desire to let Adams leave last week for example, O’Neill told the Echo: “Blair is a good professional and a good player but he had reached the stage of his career where he needed to be playing games and we couldn’t guarantee him them here.
“This move is good for him and it will help his career to develop and if it does so, we won’t lose out as a club.”
O’Neill was referring to the fact that although Adams left for nothing, Sunderland have a hefty sell-on clause.
And the same would apply for any moves for Lynch and Noble.
Still at Sunderland are injured centre-halves Louis Laing and John Egan, while midfielder Billy Knott, whose season has also been blighted by injury, remains on the books.