Trio up for sale?
Chief Sportswriter of the Northern Echo, Scott Wilson, has today claimed that high-earners Lamine Kone, Didier Ndong and Jack Rodwell have been earmarked by the club as potential departures in the upcoming January transfer window.
Both Kone and Ndong were heavily linked with moves away to West Ham in the Summer, though Rodwell never looked likely to leave - largely due to his horrendous injury record and over-inflated pay packet putting clubs off making a move for the former England international.
The case of Lamine Kone it’s a curious one - Sunderland could have sold the Ivorian to Everton in the summer of 2016 but opted against it, turning down a fee of around £18m for the man signed that January from Lorient. Since then, Kone has struggled for form and there have been repeated questions over his desire and commitment, issues that have blighted him considerably and that have seen his stock fall to the point that he’s now out of the team, with Sunderland sat second bottom in the Championship.
Dider Ndong was also linked with a move to Lyon this past August, but nothing came of it and the midfielder remained on Wearside. Though Ndong is reported as Sunderland’s ‘record transfer’, the Gabon international is still being paid for in installments and any sale would have to see Martin Bain gain a profit, meaning that the club could hold out until Ndong’s image - and value - increases beyond the point it’s at right now.
With the Sunderland CEO still seeking to improve the way that the club accounts look it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the trio could leave, but that of course depends upon whether we can find buyers wanting to take any of them off our hands - and, on the basis of this season, it might just be a case that we struggle to find someone willing.
Stryjek nearing return
Polish goalkeeper Max Stryjek, who is currently on loan at Accrington Stanley, is nearing a return from the knee injury he sustained on his debut for the League Two club - according to his manager John Coleman.
Stryjek joined Stanley on loan for the season on transfer deadline day, but was injured just nine minutes into his debut and has since spent his time recovering on Wearside.
The Academy of Light product was spotted taking in the game from the crowd alongside fellow loanee Michael Ledger at Tuesday night’s U23s win over Hertha Berlin.
The Poland U21s international stopper is highly thought of at Sunderland, and it is hoped that he can grow whilst out on loan in the same manner that his academy predecessor Jordan Pickford did just years earlier.
Speaking of Stryjek’s injury issues, Coleman said:
Max will be back in training with us next week.
Stanley have just one available ‘keeper, the inexperienced Aaron Chapman, so it’s expected that upon Stryjek’s return he’ll be handed his place back in the starting eleven.
Hard-working Watmore senses change around the corner
Recently-returned forward Duncan Watmore feels that through hard-work and determination, Sunderland can get over their bad form and start to climb the table.
The former England U21s international spent ten months out having suffered a horrific knee injury in a game last December against Leicester City, making his return to action two weeks ago from the bench against Preston.
Speaking to the media ahead of this weekend’s game, Watmore spoke of his belief in his fellow players, noting that we have a ‘really good group of guys’:
Even though we’re not in a great place in the table I feel like mentally there is a good vibe around the place. Sometimes you’re losing and everything’s a disaster and there’s no way you can see any way out. It’s not like that at all.
I feel like there’s a really good group of guys, everyone wants to work for each other and the manager and all the staff. I do feel like it’s a league where you can go on a run and get some confidence.
That only comes by working hard, getting the basics right and grinding out results. The more you do that, the more confidence you have, the more momentum you have and the easier the results become.
He also noted that the morale of the squad is good and that the players aren’t feeling too despondent, despite our shocking run of form in the league:
I do feel like the lads are feeling very positive about it even though we’re not in a great position. There’s a difference between being in a bad position and thinking you’re there and being in a bad position and thinking you can change it. We have that positive mindset but we need to start doing that (winning) soon and hopefully we can start on Saturday.