How the ongoing saga of moving on AWOL duo could scupper Sunderland landing Celtic ace

Sunderland target Ryan Christie.
Sunderland target Ryan Christie.

Sunderland’s pursuit of Ryan Christie could be scuppered by the ongoing delay to Didier Ndong and Papy Djilobodji’s exits.

Manager Jack Ross has identified Christie as a player who could add some variety and competition to his attack.

With Celtic expected to strengthen in the next 24 hours, Christie is likely to be allowed out on loan and the player is thought to be keen on testing himself south of the border.

However, a number of clubs are interested in the 23-year-old, including League One rivals Barnsley, and Sunderland are currently not in a position to move.

They need to move on at least one of Ndong or Djilobodji before strengthening again.

Ross remains hopeful that will happen but he is aware that with some European windows staying open past tomorrow’s 5pm deadline, there are no guarantees.

“Ryan obviously isn’t playing much at Celtic at the moment, though he did come off the bench in a league game at the weekend,” he said.

“He’ll have interest from elsewhere and we’re not in position where we can do anything immediately. That may be problematic for us as these hours wounds down. It may not be, things could change [with Ndong and Djilobodji].

“There’s been dialogue with clubs so we could potentially move something forward [with Christie or another target] quite quickly.

“But because the deadline is longer in some European countries, that complicates it again. In theory the two players players could still sit it out.

“It has been a saga, it’s been rubbish for Tony [Coton] and Richard [Hill], time consuming and stopped them focusing on the positive aspects of the club.

“It is sad in a lot of ways, they’re footballers, they should want to play.”

While Ross could strengthen even if one of the pair stays, he admits that it would not be an ideal situation and is eager not to potentially harm the club’s chances of strengthening when the next window opens.

“There’s a longer term aspect to it in terms of January,” he said.

“When that comes round we would like to be in a position where if we felt we needed to, we could strengthen again and add little bits or pieces. We don’t want to be in a position where we can’t do that. I’ve understood that, I understand the model that the club needs to follow moving forward.”

With almost two players for every position, Ross is satisfied with both the character and quality in his squad.

Charlie Wyke and Jerome Sinclair are likely to return soon and so the Black Cats boss believes he is in a ‘fortunate’ position.

“I still think it would be helpful [fourth striker] but I’m fortunate with what I do have,” he said.

“All three have different attributes.

“Charlie’s attributes are obvious and he’s proven in this league. Jerome has already shown in a short time [against Charlton] what he can do, stretching the game for us.

“Josh has been terrific. At Wimbledon, it was a tough game but he didn’t buckle and came back to make a contribution in the second half. It all means if it shuts tomorrow and where we are, I’ll be quite comfortable.”

Ross is not expecting any further senior outgoings other than Ndong and Djilobodji.

Bryan Oviedo had been widely expected to leave earlier in the summer but Ross is expecting him to stay and be part of his plans.

He said: “The Bryan situation has been fairly consistent in that his application to what we’ve been doing here is evident. At no point has he ever expressed a desire to leave.

“So unless something changes dramatically in the next 36 hours, then I expect him to be a part of my squad for Saturday. But that’s not to say it wouldn’t, because I’ve learned through my playing and management career that these things do happen towards the end of a transfer window.

“Things can change very quickly, but there’s nothing on the horizon at the moment so all being well he’ll be with me for Saturday and beyond.”