Modibo Diakite's future is still up in the air, with Forza Italian Football claiming that the Frenchman is not wanted by Fiorentina.
Diakite's time is most certainly over at Sunderland. Gus Poyet has made his stance clear on the player - he just doesn't want him - and, for me, it's tinged slightly with sadness because I expected so much more from the giant defender upon his signing last summer. I imagine we'll end up farming him out on loan again somewhere towards the end of the window because, with two years left on his deal, getting someone to actually pay money for him may prove to be difficult.
The Italian website also claim that we've had a loan bid rejected for Palermo forward Abel Hernandez, with the Sicilian side expecting us to return with a better offer.
Elsewhere, head coach Gus Poyet gave a update to the Sunderland Echo on the fitness of some of his players following Saturday's draw with Vitoria Setubal, and he seems in good spirits as we look to round off our pre-season programme this week with games against Real Betis and Udinese, confirming that Jozy Altidore will start the game against the Spaniards on Thursday.
"Billy (Jones) is all right. I did not play him, just as a precaution.
We didn’t want to take a risk when we don’t have too many defenders available. His hamstring is a little bit tight, not a pull or a tear or anything like that. He told us after 35 minutes on Wednesday and we were laughing because five minutes later he was going all the way forward for a corner! But he will be fine.
There were a few challenges from both sides. Of course when you’re on the pitch, you think you need to go in strong because otherwise you’re going to suffer.
The only two we didn’t play were Lee, who had a little knock the other day, and Wes for obvious reasons.
The rest who were here got some games. I’m looking forward to seeing Jozy on Thursday and the new players."
"The players have been excellent. They have been working very hard and they have enjoyed their time away because it is where you make the group.
But we need to be very smart when the new players come in and integrate them very quickly. You can’t imagine how important it is for the players to really care for each other out on the pitch."
Gus also remained coy when talking about potential transfers being completed over the next few days, but his attitude would suggest he was quietly hopeful that we'll have some positive news to come, perhaps even today.
When asked about Fabio Borini, he meekly responded:
"You’ll know in two or three days."
He followed up with:
"I’m expecting good things this week. I’m really looking forward to seeing the final touches with the players we bring in to make sure we have a competitive squad. It’s quality sometimes, the different ability that you need in the last third, more players, everything really. But it is clear that we need to score more."
One thing we have seemed to struggle to do throughout pre-season is hit the back of the net - the bulk of our goals scored have been by members of the under 21's squad - but Gus isn't worried by the lack of end product.
"It’s something we need to improve, but is it something we need to worry about? No.
During the time that we were passing the ball and we were fresh on Saturday, we were very close. The problem is that, at the moment, it looks like it is becoming more and more difficult. If we were just kicking the ball forward and hoping for the bounce, then we could talk about the fact we were not playing well, but we have done OK and it is just the finish that is missing.
There were quite a few times in the first half when we were behind the back four and there was a very easy cross or pass, but we did not make it."
Elsewhere, forgotten man Valentin Roberge has said he wants to stay and fight for his place in the side - admirable, really, as it would seem we're looking at bringing another two defenders into the club.
When asked if he contemplated leaving, he told the Sunderland Echo:
"No, I knew coming from Portugal that it wasn’t going to be easy to adapt.
I could have made the easy decision and stayed in Portugal, but my dream was to try something different. The best things don’t always come too quickly. I played, I didn’t play, I played, I didn’t play, but I just had to stay strong in my head and work, prepare well for every game and show the manager what I could do.
It’s the league that everyone wants to play in. Last year was good preparation for this year. I had to be patient, which was not easy, but it’s a new season and I just want to work hard and then see what happens.
I hope to play more games this year. I don’t know what will happen with the manager’s decision, but all I can do is work, work, work."
Despite his set backs since arriving at the club, the Frenchman remains positive about his future and feels some good work has been done in Portugal.
Playing alongside John O'Shea and Wes Brown is something Roberge looks upon as a massive opportunity to learn and improve himself, and he's making the most of training every day alongside the former Manchester United pair.
"They’ve both got so much experience. A lot of times last season, I just watched them. I’ve learned a lot and now I hope I can play more with them.
There are obviously several things I need to improve in my game – physically and in the air, but I worked hard on them last season. I hope that I can continue to improve.
We did a lot of work, played a few matches and also got to know the new players - it’s all been positive. For me, the most important thing is to get more and more minutes every match. That way, we know that when the new season arrives, we will automatically find our fitness."
The Manchester Evening News are reporting that Sunderland are 'leading the chase' to sign former Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell.
Rodwell, who is still just twenty-three years old, has barely been given a sniff at Manchester City since joining them two years ago and, despite being fit for the majority of last season, he appeared for the Citizens in five Premier League games. Rodwell, like Scott Sinclair, has become a victim of stockpiling by the Premier League champions and it's probably a good time to take advantage of the fact that he's desperate to play first team football again.
If he came to Sunderland he'd most certainly be guaranteed regular football and would add a dynamic to our midfield - he's a typical box-to-box player - that we perhaps lack. Hopefully there is some truth in that one.
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