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Drop them: With the season over, bin those who don't want to be here & won't be come August

With Sunderland needing to start building to a positive start to life in the Championship, surely the trip to Middlesbrough, and the remaining five games after tonight, are the perfect time to drop those likely to leave the club in a matter of weeks and give those who will be here in August a chance to gain a stake in the team.

Sunderland v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Tonight's Tees-Wear derby is being billed as the least eagerly anticipated north east clash for a generation, but both clubs have a very good reason to finish the season strongly with a run of good performances starting this evening.

With little hope of survival remaining, both of the soon-to-be-relegated A19 rivals also need to shift the focus from a dead and buried survival push to pondering who will still be with each club come August and hand them an opportunity to gain some buy-in to the first team.

Middlesbrough v Burnley - Premier League
The Riverside Stadium - Sunderland and Middlesbrough will play out their last Premier League derby for a while tonight
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

For a Sunderland side whose campaign has been little more than a dismal trudge toward relegation, binning those who will be first out of the door once the final whistle of the final game of the season blows makes absolute sense.

Of course defeating a local rival may partially lift the gloom for a day or two, so picking a 'strongest' team makes sense. But the absolute bare minimum for the eleven who start the game tonight must be to leave everything out on the pitch to give their long suffering supporters something to cheer on the return to Wearside and restore a little hope amongst the hopeless.

And does anyone truly believe the likes of Fabio Borini, Adnan Januzaj or Lamine Kone can be trusted to do so? How about the other loanees - Javier Manquillo and Jason Denayer - they might appear to 'try' but they're unlikely to stick a foot in now and risk injury and a nice move when their Sunderland stints are now all but over.

Aside from hoping to elevate themselves in the eyes of prospective buyers in the summer market, none of them will have any great desire to bust a gut for their team at the Riverside tonight. Or at the Stadium of Light this weekend, or any of the other four games to follow.

We can excuse Jermain Defoe and Jordan Pickford from this banishment for being - roughly speaking - the only two Premier League-class players in the Sunderland squad this season. Both have been exemplary - by and large - and their attitude and application remain largely beyond question. The fact that both earned call-ups to the England squad from a team which has managed 21 points in 32 games is testament to their character.

England v Lithuania - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Defoe's service to the club when all about him have been abject - even if he has given up on them like the rest of us this past few weeks - has been a rare highlight. And Pickford is one of the few to truly understand what it means to face Sunderland's second biggest rivals in the north east this evening.

But what of those who lack class, character and commitment?

David Moyes dropped Lamine Kone last time out for the visit of West Ham and no one missed him. The Ivorian has repaid the club who gave him a hefty pay increase last summer (in return for his antics) by bothering himself to perform in roughly three games this season. He'll be gone in a month's time.

Sunderland v Southampton - Premier League
Lamine Kone has been beaten too easily too often by attacking opponents this season
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Adnan Januzaj has largely used his year at Sunderland to reinforce a carefully managed image as a boy-band-wannabe-waster who lacked the will to fulfill his teenage promise. There is little point the 23-year-old soon-to-be Manchester United reject taking to the pitch in red-and-white for the rest of this campaign. He'll be gone in a month's time.

Sunderland v Shrewsbury Town: EFL Cup
A familiar site - Adnan Januzaj goes to ground with alarming regularity
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

And Fabio Borini has been the subject of much debate since his astonishing lack of self-awareness against the Hammers. A carefully stage-managed knee slide in front of the manager who has inexplicably kept on giving him a place in the starting eleven despite his rank attitude, ability and endeavour all season was simply ludicrous. He'll be gone in a month's time

Sunderland v West Ham United - Premier League
Fabio Borini - he thought this celebration was a good idea
Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Of his 'celebration', David Moyes told the assembled local media personnel at yesterday's press conference that his only criticism was that the Italian had not run into the net and retrieved the ball so his side could seek a winner. As for Borini's post-match comments about the Sunderland squad not being united, the Black Cats' boss shrugged off the not-so-subtle dig as common place in football.

One hopes that behind closed doors Signor Borini has been dealt with in a more befitting manner.

Regardless, Moyes suggested to the Sunderland Echo that perhaps the club will soon be cleansed of those who have stolen a wage way beyond their level of commitment:

We want players to fight for the jersey, showing commitment in every game - that's what we're looking for.

We're gutted at the position the club is in. If any supporter feels it's just them, we're devastated by the position we're in. But, we're at it - we want people who will show it and fight.

Some of them have not 'shown it', and have not had the necessary 'fight'. Time to bin them off David and give others in the squad who want it more, and who will be here next season, a chance tonight - and for the rest of the season. Literally no one will miss any of them.

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