When it comes to our current number one in Lee Camp the feeling across Wearside is mutual - he’s rubbish. Much like the rest of our goalkeepers he has hands like biscuits and thankfully he’s not one of our own - so he’s free to bugger off back to Cardiff in June. As for Jason Steele, that one is a little trickier. He’s allegedly on £15k a week (cheers Simon Grayson), so moving him on is a no brainer - but who would want him?
Robbin Ruiter is probably the best of a horrific trio, but he’s another who should probably be shown the exit door with only a year left on his contract. He’ll likely move back to his homeland within months.
This department is where the purge needs to begin.
Verdict: Get rid of them all and start afresh.
We’ve been here before, haven’t we? Yes, even at 84-years of age we’ll still likely be offering John O’Shea another contract. But seriously - with O’Shea turning 37 this month, should we really be offering another extension to him? I’m not so sure. In fact, I’m genuinely torn.
Billy Jones is another whose contract is ready to reach it’s end and the whole of Wearside should rejoice at that news. Remember the day he came into the club? It was mid-June, we’d just completed the greatest of great escapes and the long serving Phil Bardsley had departed to the sunny world of Stoke. It all seemed so perfect, didn’t it?
I mean, sure, his hair was questionable and he sounded like a Beano character, but he was free I tell ya - free! What’s the worst that could happen? Billy Jones could happen, that’s what. Marc Wilson’s contract is also up and thus should be allowed to - and likely will - leave the club alongside him.
Lamine Kone will be a cut price deal for someone somewhere and will be one of the first out of the door to save on wages and give Chris Coleman something of a transfer budget.
Bryan Oviedo’s form at the World Cup will likely to decide where he ends up, but I’d highly doubt he’ll be at the club come September regardless. Jake Clarke-Salter, Tyias Browning and Brendan Galloway will return to their parent clubs, and you’d expect Papy Djilobodji to attract interest after a good season in France, which leaves only the likes of Donald Love and Adam Matthews likely to stay.
Verdict: The purge will most certainly descend on our defence, but John O’Shea will likely avoid it as always. Reinforcements will be needed, but at least we get to wave off Billy Jones.
If there’s been any success stories this season it’s been in the form of some of our young midfielders. Speaking after the Leeds game, Chris Coleman hailed the importance of Paddy McNair and if we were to keep hold of him, he’ll be one of the first names on the team sheet - provided, of course, he can stay fit.
Alongside him, George Honeyman, Ethan Robson and Lynden Gooch will be prominent members of the squad. Elliott Embleton should be moved into a more senior role too as he continues his graduation from the Academy of Light.
Of the rest, there’s Ovie Ejaria and Jonny Williams who will 100% be returning to Liverpool and Crystal Palace respectively, Lee Cattermole’s future is very much up in the air as a high earner and we’ll likely see Jack Rodwell’s contract situation be resolved one way or another - somehow - come August. Wahbi Khazri and Didier Ndong will almost certainly be sold to save on wages to whoever wants them, leaving only Callum McManaman as the true mystery.
Verdict: It’s imperative we keep hold of McNair and then keep him to fit to build the team around him and Gooch. Honeyman and Robson will both certainly remain at the club. You’d hope we find a buyer for Cattermole and McManaman, but we may be lumbered with those two for a little while yet.
Since the departure of Lewis Grabban in January, one of our primary concerns has been goal-scoring, so you can assume this department will see plenty of change.
Ashley Fletcher will return to Middlesbrough after a disappointing six months on Wearside and you’d expect Aiden McGeady to have suitors after having a fairly decent campaign in a struggling side - I imagine we’d be looking to move his wages on too. Joel Asoro is a player that almost everyone at the club would like to stay, but we can’t deny he’ll be chased by - and tempted - to move to a club further up the league ladder. Fellow youngster Josh Maja will likely continue his development right here on Wearside.
Kazenga LuaLua’s contract expires in July, but at 27-year old and plenty to prove, I would imagine Coleman will look to offer at least another year, whereas the unfortunate Duncan Watmore’s injury problems will see no club higher up the ladder take a risk until he’s back into the first team. Fabio Borini will likely complete a permanent move to AC Milan.
Verdict: Our forward line will, once again, look very different if we drop into League One and I’d expect Fletcher, McGeady and Asoro to depart the club.
In summary: It’s going to be a very different looking Sunderland side come that first game in September, with only George Honeyman, Lynden Gooch, Josh Maja, Donald Love and Adam Matthews certainties to still be at the club in League One.
So that’s just a goalkeeper, two centre halves, two strikers, a couple of midfielders, a few wingers and a left back needed. No pressure, then.