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FIVE first-team players who look likely to leave as part of Sunderland’s summer rebuild

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Sunderland will look to rebuild their squad this summer in order to prime it for a promotion push whilst also getting some of the high earners off the wage bill. Here are five of the most high profile departures that we can expect.

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Lee Cattermole

After ten years as a Sunderland player Lee Cattermole is at the point where he probably has to leave the club, albeit under circumstances that suit the needs of both parties as we look to move on - news that fans of the central midfielder will not be keen to hear.

Cattermole is believed to earn around £40,000 per week in a deal that he agreed when we were still a Premier League side, and whilst the club were prepared to shoulder such a hefty wedge last season, our failure to gain promotion means a more serious look has to be had at the expenditure on player wages - with former Wigan captain Cattermole the most likely casualty of further cost-cutting by Sunderland’s owners.

With two years left on his current deal, Cattermole is expected to be waved off with a hefty payoff and a testimonial to commemorate his spell at the club and say his goodbyes, allowing him to move on and find himself a new club as a free agent.

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Duncan Watmore

Duncan Watmore, just three years ago, was one of the hottest young prospects at the club and was making his mark on the first-team scene in the Premier League whilst simultaneously establishing himself as one of the best players in Gareth Southgate’s England’s U21s side.

But time has been cruel to Watmore, who has suffered two serious knee injuries and an ankle problem in that time which has seen him sit out on the sidelines for a significant period of time. Despite signing for Sunderland SIX years ago, Watmore has played in just 65 first team games, with less than half of those coming as a starter.

It’s understood that Watmore is paid around £20,000 per week, which of course is a massive sum for a third tier player, particularly one who is rarely fit.

That said, the former Manchester United academy player is still young enough and has the attributes that will see him pick up a move elsewhere with ease, and for the best of both the player and Sunderland the next logical step to take is for him to move on elsewhere.

Watmore is likely to depart on a free transfer with any potential deal featuring a sell-on clause that would see Sunderland benefit down the line should he do well wherever he ends up next.

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Dylan McGeouch

I’ll be absolutely gutted to see the back of Dylan McGeouch this summer.

In my view he’s the best defensive midfield player in the squad but, for whatever reason, he’s simply not fancied by Jack Ross, who often prefers to pick Grant Leadbitter, Lee Cattermole, Max Power and George Honeyman ahead of the Scotland international.

And if that’s the case then so be it - perhaps it has just been a case of wrong club, wrong time for McGeouch, who will no doubt move on and be a success elsewhere.

Sunderland need to add height and power right down the spine of their team, and whilst I feel that McGeouch is a fantastic player we perhaps won’t feel the loss of his presence too much if we go out and sign a player who can add attributes to an area that has been sorely lacking them for a number of years now.

McGeouch’s contract with the club was for one year with the option of a further year at the player’s behest, but it’s understood that the former Hibs man is not likely to take up the option to remain at Sunderland and instead head off and find himself another club elsewhere.

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Bryan Oviedo

Bryan Oviedo is undoubtedly a good player but with two other players in his position who are more than capable of playing every week at this level, it’s likely that the Costa Rica international left back will be allowed to leave Sunderland this summer.

He won’t be short of suitors, as unlike many of his counterparts at Sunderland he has a tremendous upside in terms of his appeal to clubs abroad looking to pick up an experienced bargain in a position where there are few players of decent quality going on the cheap this summer.

Whilst the club would ultimately prefer to receive a fee for Oviedo’s services, the most likely course of action will be that the former Everton man leaves to join up with a new club in a deal that will see Sunderland perhaps shoulder some of his wages to smooth over proceedings. And with Oviedo reportedly on around £46,000 per week - making him our highest earner - it’s easy to see why that may be the case.

As an example, let’s say Oviedo’s new club agree to pay around half of those wages. So whilst Sunderland would ultimately still be paying out a heck of a lot of money to a player who isn’t even on our books, it’s still a massive saving in terms of pounds and pence for us.

The average wage of a League One footballer is £3000 per week. If Sunderland save say, for argument’s sake, £23,000 on what they’ve previously been paying for Oviedo, that equates to the total wages of probably 3 or 4 top quality players at this level.

Belgian side Club Brugge are just one club who are understood to be interested in taking Oviedo from Sunderland this summer, and it’s not hard to see why.

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Glenn Loovens

35-year-old Glenn Loovens has barely featured for Sunderland this season, and despite having a year left on his current deal with the club it’s understood that the former Celtic man is considering retiring from playing altogether after a storied and illustrious career that has seen him play football in his native Holland, Wales, Scotland, England and Spain.

Having won the Scottish Premiership with Celtic and the UEFA Cup with Feyenoord, Loovens’ career has reached its natural end, and as such a smart and collected individual it’s thought that the powerful defender has aspirations to coach once his playing days are over.

It’s unlikely that Loovens will decide to continue playing next season, a move which suits both parties as we look to rebuild our squad and bring in defenders that have both a short term and long term future with the club as we look to rapidly progress through the leagues.

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