Lee Johnson explains Sunderland's stance on Denver Hume
Lee Johnson remains hopeful Denver Hume will stay at Sunderland but admits the club are exploring other options at full-back.
Hume, 23, has been offered a new deal by the Black Cats, which Johnson says the player has declined.
The left-back is still recovering from a hamstring injury at the Academy of Light, while Sunderland have recently added Dennis Cirkin to their ranks.
Johnson would like to have two left-backs in his squad, and admits the club need to be prepared if Hume does depart.
“I just hope it’s resolved,” said Johnson when asked about Hume’s situation.
“We’ve offered Denver a contract, an improved contract, we don’t want to kick him out the door.
“At the same time the club can only pay the value of that player they think he’s worth at that particular time.
“Therefore everybody has options and everybody has decisions to make, so where we are with it we find ourselves at the backend of the process. The process is Denver stays and signs or Denver goes.
“At that point the club retains compensation rights because Denver has decided not to sign this improved offer.
“At the moment we are caught in the middle a little bit in terms of that next left-back, hopefully it’s Denver Hume, if it’s not Denver Hume then of course we need to go and get a position where we can be flexible with both full-backs.
“I’m always looking to reduce the quantity but increase the quality, whether that be a left-back who can play right-back.”
Johnson also said he may consider deploying a system with inverted full-backs, giving them license to cut in from the flanks.
“It doesn't happen a lot in England but abroad often it does, I know in Italy there is a well-used tactic where they use inverted full-backs quite a lot,” added Johnson.
“That leads to a lot more shots coming inside and having shots on your good foot.
“It’s something I haven’t used yet but I may potentially use moving forward depending on the full-backs.
“Whether we sign two left-backs will obviously depend on quality and the decision that Denver and the club make.”
Johnson may also look to bring in another centre-back this summer as he looks to add competition for places.
Tom Flanagan, Bailey Wright and Manchester City loanee Callum Doyle will provide options in the heart of defence, while Oliver Younger has now made five senior appearances after playing for the under-23 side last season.
“I think it’s a consideration,” replied Johnson when asked if Sunderland could sign another centre-back this summer. “I think again it comes down to the quality you can get.
“I would always take four centre-halves where possible, at the moment we have Ollie Younger as well who can play at centre-half.
“We have also got Luke O’Nien who is comfortable playing there as he showed expertly at the end of last season.
“In an ideal world I’d have two players for every position except from probably winger where I’d prefer three of the four and maybe full-back where I’d take three of the four and have quality in those areas.”