Sunderland left-back Bryan Oviedo has dismissed talk he could leave the Stadium of Light this month and has committed himself to ensuring the Black Cats avoid relegation to League One.
As one of the club’s few remaining players with Premier League experience, some had anticipated the Costa Rican international could be sold in the January transfer window, but speaking with La Nacion, Oviedo says dropping into the third-tier is unthinkable:
Sunderland is a big team from England, I have many years of not being in Championship and it is not an option to go to League One. We have to see how we correct the situation to see how we change the moment we are in.
The 27-year-old joined Sunderland during last year’s January transfer window along with fellow Evertonian Darron Gibson and has played nearly 40 games for the Black Cats both in the Premier League and this season in the Championship.
Oviedo suggests a lack of consistency has hampered Sunderland this season as the club has struggled to adjust to life outside the Premier League but also hints he won’t be hanging around if the Black Cats do succumb to the drop:
We have played well, but we have lacked consistency, I think we have a very good team, with good players, I do not plan to go down, playing in the third division would be very difficult for me.
Settled in the North East and living in Durham with his wife and two children, the veteran of over 30 caps for Costa Rica says a move in the January transfer window is unlikely and that he is happy at Sunderland:
With my representative I have spoken and, well, I know how difficult it is to leave in January, I want to stay in Sunderland at the moment to get out of the situation we are in. I am very happy in this team and I can continue here without problem.
After a frustrating spell at Everton, in which he made just 50 appearances in five years, Oviedo has found some consistency with Sunderland, though a hamstring injury saw him miss a few games in December.
Initially struggling on his return to the side, notably in games against Sheffield United and Cardiff, Oviedo put in a much better performance in the victory against Hull City at the weekend.
The Sunderland full back is likely to face England in a warm up game in June ahead of the World Cup and Oviedo is all too aware that a good showing at Russia 2018 could swing him a decent move for next season:
I have a contract here [at Sunderland], but I also know that if God goes first and I go to the World Cup, then a good performance there can help improve opportunities, now my goal is to have a rhythm to get a good level.
The World Cup could prove crucial for a cash-strapped Black Cats looking to raise funds in the summer. Oviedo will be joined by Wahbi Khazri and potentially Papy Djilobodji as the Sunderland-owned players showcasing themselves on the global stage.