Lee Johnson has this response to Bailey Wright speculation after Sunderland defender linked with Wigan

Lee Johnson says any further exits from his Sunderland squad will only be sanctioned if they are on the club's terms.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 7:47 am

Experienced defender Bailey Wright is the subject of significant interest from ambitious League One side Wigan Athletic, who have already signed Max Power and Charlie Wyke this summer.

Wright was not involved in the 1-1 draw with York City on Wednesday night, though that was due to a minor groin injury he sustained during the team's week-long training camp in Edinburgh last week.

Asked if he expected Wright to stay at the club or leave before the end of the window, Johnson said: "He's got a year left on his contract.

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Bailey Wright in action against Wigan Athletic last season

"We've been very open and honest with Bailey all the way through.

"I don't think the new ownership have seen the best of Bailey Wright, in terms of, he's got to do better than the last ten games of last season.

"At the same time, he can, and he was a real warrior in that time because he'd been out for nine or ten weeks and then came in and had about ten games on the spin.

"We also know what he brings off the pitch more than anyone, he's a fantastic human being and a great leader for us.

"Performances have been steady but I know there's more to come."

With Arbenit Xhemajli still working his way back from a major knee injury, Sunderland s defensive options are currently limited.

Asked if the would block any exits before reinforcements have been secured, Johnson said: "Any of those scenarios would have to be on our terms.

"It's got to be the right move for Sunderland and the team. It's that simple.

"We are in the market for a centre-half but that's because Arby neeeds time after a bad injury.

"Naturally there's interest in our players, and we'll take every decision on its merits and for the benefit for Sunderland."

Sunderland have significant work still to do in the transfer market, even if Denver Hume is expected to agree a new contract.

Johnson admits that it could be after the season begins that he finally has a settled defence, and the head coach acknowledges that further business is absolutely essential.

He says that he thinks he needs at least four new bodies, with defensive reinforcements the obvious priority.

"It's hard to put a number on it," he said.

"But obviously we've had a few not here tonight due to injury and illness.

"We need a few, I'll be honest.

"If you gave me six I'd take six, if you gave me four I'd take that if they were high quality.

"But we need a few."

Asked if he was comfortable with where the club were at, Johnson added: "I wouldn't say I'm comfortable, I'm having sleepless nights that's for sure.

"What I am comfortable with is that we're working extremely hard in the background.

"It’s a tough division this year, and you’ve got to have the quality. At the moment, we’re a little short in certain areas.

"There’s always good teams and the interesting thing at the moment is the out of contract players, and at what point in their head they drop from Championship-level money in their heads and are comfortable with it.

"There’s going to be bargains available.”

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