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Leave or Remain? Assessing each of Sunderland’s out of contract players

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Sunderland have a massive TWENTY players out of contract this summer - Ant Waterson gives his views on who he thinks the club should retain, and who he thinks should leave.

New Sunderland Manager Press Conference Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Lee Burge

Burge has had a strange career at Sunderland.

Originally signing as backup for Jon McLaughlin, he impressed in League Cup games before breaking into the side in the early days of the Parkinson era. However, an injury saw him lose his place. McLaughlin’s departure has seen Burge promoted to number one this season, but his performances have been mixed.

He can pull off the odd superb save but is just as likely to throw one into his net. His distribution is also poor. I can’t really see Burge improving and with the young Anthony Patterson waiting in the wings, maybe it would be better for Burge to go.

VERDICT: Leave

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

Remi Matthews

Matthews was doomed from his first game - a pre-season fixture at home to Carlisle was a chance for fans to get their first look at a few of the players.... and the first shot at him he pretty much flapped into the back of the net.

Things haven’t improved from there, really, with Mathews not looking comfortable at all and making another massive error against Burton.

VERDICT: Leave

Sunderland v Milton Keynes Dons - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Anthony Patterson

Back when we could watch football live (yes, it really happened) I used to take in a few under 23 games for Sunderland. Despite the team losing pretty much every week, Anthony Patterson in goal always struck me as a player with potential.

He is a very good shot stopper, and takes command of his box well. We have only seen him a couple of times season, and he has looked decent enough. I would like to see him sign a new deal, before spending the second half of the season out on loan.

VERDICT: Remain

Liverpool v Sunderland: U18 Premier League Cup Photo by Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Luke O’Nien

Luke O’Nien has been brilliant for us. He has taken a new position in right back or right wing back and made it his own. However, under Lee Johnson I would like to see him given a role in midfield at the expense of Max Power (we will get on to him later).

O’Nien is a genuine goal threat and now under a more attack minded manager, maybe we will finally see the qualities we singed him for. I genuinely believe Luke is settled in the North East and I would be giving him a new, long term deal.

Verdict: Remain

Sunderland v Burton Albion - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Conor McLaughlin

We all know McLaughlin struggled in his first season here for whatever reason, but this term he has looked steady playing in a back three.

The worry now is that with Lee Johnson playing with four in defence, McLaughlin has been used as right back, and I’m not convinced with him there.

We will hopefully be playing with more attacking intent going forward, and I can’t see McLaughlin holding down a regular spot long term.

VERDICT: Leave

Sunderland v AFC Wimbledon - Sky Bet League One Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Jordan Willis

Willis has been blighted with injuries this season that have really affected his ability to feature in the first team on a regular basis. Every time I’ve watched him during the current campaign, he has never seemed to be fully fit. However, I really would like to see the partnership with him and Bailey Wright progress once he is in better health.

When fit, Willis is one of the best defenders in the league and would learn so much from Wright. Whether Willis would be happy with another season in League One should we not go up is questionable, however.

VERDICT: Remain

Sunderland Training Session Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Brandon Taylor

Taylor really hasn’t progressed at all in recent years. The only time we’ve seen him in competitive action recently has been in the Papa Johns Trophy, and even in those games he has looked poor. The fact Oliver Younger is now looked upon as the young defender making the bench pretty much suggests that Taylor’s time is up at Sunderland.

Verdict: Leave

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Denver Hume

The defensive side of Denver Hume’s game has really improved this season. However, as always with Hume his final ball delivery isn’t good enough for someone who is so hugely relied upon as an attacking outlet down the left hand side.

Denver can develop into a very good player under the right coach and I would be surprised if he was to leave. I think us switching back to a back four will suit him also.

VERDICT: Remain

Sunderland v Burton Albion - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Callum McFadzean

Signed as back up to Hume, Mcfadzean originally looked the part when given the chance against Mansfield. His crossing and ability to get forward looked good.

However, an injury in his next game set him back, and he hasn’t really done much since his debut. Will need to improve to earn a new deal.

VERDICT: Leave

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dion Sanderson

Has looked decent in the few chances he has had with us - a player who looks like he will have a bright future somewhere down the line. I would like to see us signing him again next season, whether that’s permanently or on loan.

VERDICT: Remain

Northampton Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

Max Power

A real tough one this - Power has played in a more attacking role recently but as always with him, he hasn’t delivered anywhere near as much this season.

I personally think the decision to give him captaincy this season was correct, as Max does have the passion and desire. But he doesn’t score many goals, he has too many mistakes in him and still plays like the three red cards he received in his first season are in the back of his mind when making a tackle.

The signing of Carl Winchester from Forest Green may see Max demoted to the bench in the next few weeks, and I really think its time we moved him on.

VERDICT: Leave

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Josh Scowen

Pretty much like Power, Scowen hasn’t really impressed me this season. He has energy and can cover the pitch well, but he never looks like he is going to score a goal from midfield. At 27 he is still capable of improving but he is another I wouldn’t be sad to see go.

Verdict: Leave

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Grant Leadbitter

Grant has been brilliant this season. Lots of people wrote him off without knowing the full extent of the personal issues and trauma that he was suffering, but he has come back this season and has stayed in the side from the get-go.

We all know his legs are not up to it as much as they once were, but what Grant has done is focus on the things he can do, and he does them very well.

He will be 35 at the end of the season, however, and whether you look at giving him a new deal at that age is questionable, especially when we are told the new regime will be looking at youth development. His wages will also give us some needed salary cap breathing space.

VERDICT: Remain... but as a coach

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Elliot Embleton

Unfortunately, it’s been another injury-plagued season for Elliot. He never seems to have any luck with injuries. However, since he has returned, he still has not been able to command a regular starting place.

I’m not sure if he needs a clean break to improve himself (see Duncan Watmore). However, with hopefully the coaching and focus on youth, maybe we will finally see the best of his abilities. Plus, he’s only 21 and still has a lot of years in him.

He’s a player we should be looking build a team around. A no-brainer, really.

VERDICT: Remain

Sunderland v AFC Wimbledon - Sky Bet League One Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Chris Maguire

When he’s good, he’s good, when he’s bad, he’s awful - that pretty much sums Maguire’s entire career up. This season I think he has been our biggest victim of there being no fans in the grounds to watch games - he definitely thrives off it.

Maguire has struggled for consistency and has regularly found himself on the bench this season. I was expecting him to kick on under Johnson, but hasn’t yet. At 32 as well maybe his better days are behind him, and the emergence of Jack Diamond has seen him fall further behind in the pecking order.

VERDICT: Leave

Oldham Athletic v Sunderland: Papa John’s Trophy Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Aiden McGeady

I really can’t see Mcgeady extending his contact.

Far too much happened under the Parkinson regime, and whilst he’s came back into the fold under Johnson, who seems to like him, I can see McGeady maybe moving abroad for one last crack at a decent payday in the sunshine - and who would blame him?

It’s probably best for all parties if he goes, as it will free up a lot space on the wage bill.

VERDICT: Leave

Northampton Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

Jack Diamond

Diamond has been a bright spark in what so far has been a miserable season. His pace and directness scares opposition. Whilst not the finished article, he is another player I would be looking to build a squad around. Diamonds contract should be the first one Johnson and Speakman should be looking at.

VERDICT: Remain

Sunderland v Hull City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Charlie Wyke

Charlie Wyke has been Sunderland’s most prolific striker this season, but let’s be honest here... that’s not saying much, is it?

Wykes inability to hold the ball up and make a nuisance of himself really hinders us, and his lack of pace allows League One defences to catch up.

If we want to achieve promotion, we need a more consistent finisher and a pacey forward. Wyke is neither of those, I’m afraid, but he will be a good signing for a League Two side.

VERDICT: Leave

Northampton Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by John Cripps/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Danny Graham

Wow, this signing really worked out... didn’t it? But what did we expect of a player who’s only goal of us the first time round was a deflection off his arse.

That said, when Graham first came back in the game against Charlton, he got into some really good positions, but managed to miss a couple of very good chances. Since then you can tell his confidence and fitness has been zapped. A waste of a signing when we really should have looked at a younger, hungrier player.

VERDICT: Leave

Charlton Athletic v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

Benji Kimpioka

I was very surprised to see Benji return, if I’m honest, but he hit the ground running for the under 23s, scoring bags of goals before succumbing to a hamstring injury.

He is just returning to fitness now, and I would not be shocked at all if Johnson was to give him some game time. Benji has raw pace and skill that would frighten players and will give our attack a much-needed new dimension.

I’m led to believe the club have the option to extend his deal, and I’d be doing that.

VERDICT: Remain

Sunderland v Leicester City U21: Leasing.com Cup Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images