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Sunderland v Lincoln City - Papa John’s Trophy

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O’Nien contract news is promising - but I dunno how to feel about Wyke’s situation

Lee Johnson’s comments this weekend about the status of our out of contract players has got Gav thinking, and he’s got mixed feelings about the potential outcomes of the negotiations.

Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

“Charlie, I would say the door is ajar, but we’re certainly not expecting him to come back.

I’d say that it would be him coming back to us and saying he wants to talk again, effectively.

My gut says that he will move on, I’d say 95% that he’ll move on.

But we would leave the door ajar because at the moment, you never know.”

“With Luke, I must have spoken to him every other day for the last three or four weeks.

I’m hopeful on that one, but it’s not quite there yet. It’s good signs.”

— Lee Johnson on the futures of Charlie Wyke and Luke O’Nien

Following on from Sunderland’s first pre-season game against Spennymoor, Lee Johnson offered the assembled north east press pack an update on the situations of Luke O’Nien and Charlie Wyke, with there seemingly being contrasting outlooks for both men.

It doesn’t sound good for Charlie Wyke, though - even at the time of the club’s retained list being released, the way his situation was described was different.

Without wanting to assume too much, it would appear either the player has made it clear that he’d like to leave, or that he’s after a lot more money than we’re prepared to offer - but what do I know… I’ve not been privy to those conversations.

Clearly, going off Johnson’s word and tone, he’s more enthusiastic about the prospect of retaining Luke O’Nien - a player who you’d imagine is a dream for any manager to work with.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

I don’t imagine that I’m the only Lads fan who feels this way, but Charlie Wyke is such a strange player for me to try and warm to - which seems ridiculous given he scored over 30 goals last season.

I wonder if the same thoughts occupy the mind of our manager and recruitment team, who, like me, might be wondering if the team as a whole would benefit from having a striker leading the line whose game is about more than just scoring first time finishes inside the box. And, having impressed towards the end of the season, Ross Stewart might just be Sunderland’s biggest bargaining chip in any negotiations.

It’s likely that they feel he’s good enough to play regularly in a promotion-chasing side, and that his ability to drop deep, hold the ball up, wrestle with defenders and make a nuisance of himself will go hand in hand with scoring goals on a regular basis.

With that in mind, and I don’t know about anyone else here, I feel like re-signing our 30-odd goal a season striker isn’t as big a deal as it might appear.

O’Nien, however, is completely different in my eyes. He’s a good player and one you’d surely want around the club whether we were in the Championship or the third tier - retaining his services is a no-brainer, so it was fantastic to hear that things are progressing well with him.

Luke is as honest as they come, and smart, and he’ll have taken advice - again, I’m just assuming here so don’t take my word as gospel - to keep his options open in case a decent alternative offer comes around.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Realistically though, you have to wonder what sort of offers were on the table from Championship clubs. I have no doubt that he’s had interest, but from where? Is it likely they’re midtable or strugglers looking for a utility man on relatively low wages to bulk their squad?

The fact he’s failed to nail down a spot in his regular position will have surely counted against him - clubs will be looking at him and thinking he can fill a spot in their squad to help cover numerous positions, and as an ambitious player, you have to wonder whether that’s particularly appealing.

Sunderland are likely to be the biggest club with an offer on the table right now. He’s settled here and he knows his place in Lee Johnson’s starting eleven is guaranteed - is it worth passing that up in order to sign for a Luton, or Peterborough? I know what I’d do.

O’Nien’s issue, I’d imagine, will be with where any club sees him playing. He did alright at centre half last season, and brilliantly at right back in the two campaigns before that, but he’s a central midfielder by trade and may want some guarantees over where he’ll be played.

And, on top of that, he’s a footy-o-holic and seeing his teammates back in training and playing games will be hurting him while he’s sat at home, I’m sure. I suspect he’ll budge sooner than the others on that basis alone.

No matter what the end result is, I just hope we see talks on all fronts - Denver Hume included - at some point this week.

We need to get rid of Grigg and bring in a couple of new forwards to complement Ross Stewart sooner rather than later, and we haven’t got a left back at the club, so signing at least one regardless of Hume’s situation remains a priority.

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

I don’t feel bad for saying this, though - I’ll not be overly concerned if Wyke doesn’t come back, and it might actually be best for both parties if he heads off elsewhere. If he gets a sniff of a Championship move then he should take it, because I doubt he’ll ever get the chance again, and for Sunderland - we can acknowledge that he’s been a fantastic player for us in the last year or so, but perhaps admit that him scoring 30 goals isn’t likely to happen again. We ought to stick to our gut instinct when it comes to making a firm decision on whether we see a place for Charlie in the squad next season.

Whatever the case may be, I’m sure you’ll admit that it’s nice that we have something to discuss and get excited about again, England at the Euros aside. Here’s hoping this next week is a good one on all fronts.


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