Sam Allardyce admits Sunderland will again have to play catch-up in their plans for next season, due to the uncertainty over their Premier League status.
Until Sunderland’s fate is known in the survival battle, the club have put discussions over their close season business on ice, with Allardyce currently limited to plotting pre-season friendly arrangements.
Every other team that knows their safe will already be at least halfway through planning what they want to doSAM ALLARDYCE
It is understood that even final decisions on which players in the Under-21 squad will be retained or released are on hold, until Sunderland know whether they will be playing Premier League or Championship football.
And boss Allardyce says that will immediately put Sunderland at a disadvantage to their rivals when it comes to the transfer market – a problem which has dogged the club in each of the previous three summers when they have escaped relegation at the last minute.
Allardyce said: “We can only talk about pencilling in of pre-season – where we’re going, where we’ll be training, what teams we’re going to play, when we’ll start back.
“That’s it. The rest of it is wait and see where we are.
“The longer that goes on, the tougher it gets.
“Every other team that knows their safe will already be at least halfway through planning what they want to do.
“We’ll have to play catch-up.”
Sunderland could edge a step closer to the Championship today if Norwich secure a third successive victory against sinking Crystal Palace and leave the Black Cats seven points adrift of safety, albeit Allardyce’s men could immediately catch up in tomorrow’s visit of Leicester.
Norwich are only three points adrift of a Palace side whose last Premier League victory came on December 19.
However, Allardyce continues to believe that the two sides who will join Aston Villa in the Championship next season will come from Sunderland, Norwich and Newcastle.
“We could have already put Palace in a difficult position, like Norwich have done, but we haven’t,” he added.
“If we can win the game tomorrow and then win at Norwich, and Alan’s (Pardew, Palace boss) team continue not to win, it would get interesting.
“But I still think it’s any two from three.”