Futures of Kone and Khazri remain unclear
With the season now firmly underway, Simon Grayson addressed the situations of Lamine Kone and Wahbi Khazri in his press conference yesterday and hinted they remain firmly in his plans - for this weekend’s fixture at least.
Both Khazri and Kone have shown a good attitude, We have a value on their heads and if nobody reaches that value then they will stay. Lamine has been questioned but he was outstanding the other night. He did everything right. While they are here they will be part and parcel of the team. If they go we will see where it takes us.
Tellingly, Grayson continued to insist neither player will leave unless a club comes in and matches Sunderland’s valuation.
Certainly these two players were obviously so important to our escape from relegation in 2015-16 and are amongst the two most talented players in our ranks currently.
The media continue to link Kone with West Ham and West Brom, but whether either will pay up is a different question. Speculation about Khazri has been far quieter of the two, and most fans seem to agree that keeping the Tunisian would be the best business Sunderland can do this summer.
Why no subs?
One of the talking points from Friday’s game with Derby was our substitutions - or lack of them.
Certainly I was one of many sat screaming at the pitch that we were not making a change as Sunderland began to lose their dominance in the second half against Derby - Gary Rowett utilised all three of his changes and they had a big impact.
Simon Grayson addressed this his press conference yesterday:
I understand that people expect substitutions because it freshens it up and it gives you other options. I'll be very surprised if I have not made a substitution in any of the 600-odd games I've been involved in. I normally do, especially if you're not winning because it gives you a way to change things around a bit. But the other night I just felt that the team knew what it was doing, knew what was required, and nobody was struggling in terms of fitness levels, We looked at maybe taking Vaughany off, but then he is a 6ft marker and Derby are strong on set-pieces. It's a rarity – I don't think it'll be happening too often. Players will be getting opportunities from the bench.
Bury line up
Our new Dutch goalie Robbin Rutier looks set to start against Bury on Thursday night. The game, which is live on Sky, will see Sunderland travel to Gigg Lane for a potential banana skin - though Simon Grayson has said he plans on playing a strong side for the game.
The Sunderland boss discussed maintaining consistency in his line-up which suggests he does not want to rock the boat too much after a first decent performance on Friday:
He’ll [Ruiter] be in the squad. We’ve got to try to give him some time. But some players need more game time, because you need to get some continuity and build partnerships. I know if I put Robbin in on Thursday he won’t let us down, but I could keep Jason in to help the consistency of team selection and developing understandings with people. A lot of the new players haven’t played much football in the last few weeks because they have been coming from clubs where they’ve not been required.
Costa Rican left back Bryan Oviedo is edging closer to a return after picking up an injury on international duty earlier this summer. The former Everton player is likely to be playing in a reserve match against Tottenham later this week and is now back in training at the Academy of Light.
Jack Rodwell is officially back in training too. Hopefully Rodwell can get over his poor injury record and get some consistency on the pitch - the £10 million man desperately needs to get some football.
Finally Josh Maja is our only current doubt in the first team squad. A refreshing change since after last season’s umpteen injuries under David Moyes - though we have only played one game.