Lee Johnson has his say on future of Sunderland striker Will Grigg
Lee Johnson admits that Will Grigg could leave the club this summer, but says that a full pre-season for Ross Stewart can help cover the gap left by the expected departure of Charlie Wyke.
Johnson said on Saturday that he is '95% certain' that Wyke will leave after his contract expired last week.
Sunderland have left the 'door ajar' for further talks should an expected move to the Championship not materialise, but the Black Cats have long been planning for life without their 31-goal striker from last season.
Sunderland are expected to be in the market for another forward this summer, particularly if Grigg does move elsewhere.
Johnson says that Stewart's January arrival from Ross County, however, was the first part of the club's succession planning.
After an encouraging end to last season, the head coach believes that a full pre-season will leave the Scottish forward ready to make a major impact in League One.
"You have to plan for every eventuality," Johnson said on Wyke's expected departure.
"In fact, that already start with signing Ross Stewart in January.
"They're different players, styles, but they have some similar attributes. And in fairness, he's not really been fully, fully fit for us yet and so this pre-season is very important for him.
"Then we've got Aiden O'Brien and Will Grigg as well."
Grigg's future is one of the key issues to be resolved in the weeks ahead, with Johnson admitting he is unsure whether the 30-year-old will see out the final year of his contract on Wearside.
There is strong interest from Wigan Athletic and MK Dons, where Grigg had a successful loan spell in the second half of last season.
The striker remains on Wearside for now, however, and played well in the club's first pre-season friendly at Spennymoor Town.
Grigg started that game alongside Stewart.
Johnson said: "Whether Will stays remains to be seen, but he's here at the moment and we think he's a good player. We like him as a player.
"Obviously, that isn't always the key thing in term of whether a player wants to stay or not."