The ongoing attempts to strengthen the squad and Jack Rodwell’s future continue to dominate the Sunderland agenda.
Our Sunderland AFC writers sat down with BBC Radio Newcastle’s Sunderland commentator Nick Barnes to discuss the January transfer window, Rodwell and whether Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong could yet still have a key role to play under Chris Coleman.
On Jack Rodwell:
Rodwell, who earns £70,000 a week and has 18-months left on his contract, will not be going on trial at Vitesse Arnhem. The 26-year-old was due at the Eredivisie side yesterday but the club confirmed it will now not take place due to ‘organisational reasons’.
Sunderland have offered to tear up Rodwell’s contract, but he said he would only walk away from his lucrative contract if a move to a new club was lined up.
Nick Barnes: “It is not Jack Rodwell’s fault in a lot of ways, the club offered the five-year deal and the wage.
“It is just a shame it has come to this, it is a distraction Chris Coleman and chief executive Martin Bain can do without.
“They have a player on the books which is strangling the club financially. It is a very difficult situation.
“If Jack Rodwell genuinely wants to resurrect his career as a footballer then the sooner he leaves this football club the better. For him and everyone concerned.
“That said he would have to swallow a bitter pill and write-off money. The ball is in his court.”
Phil Smith: “Jack was due to start training with Vitesse yesterday, that has not happened.
“It is very difficult to see any Championship club stumping up the wages to take him off Sunderland’s hands.
“Sunderland have done what they could to try and move him on this month, but it looks like he will still be a player we are talking about in a few months time.”
On transfer business:
Sunderland have signed Chelsea defender Jake Clarke-Salter on a loan deal until the end of the season, but are yet to add any more new signings ahead of the 11pm transfer deadline on Wednesday.
NB: “I think they will get two or three in.
“I am not particularly worried that they won’t, the worry I do have is whether they will be ‘desperation’ signings because it is so close to the end of the window, though it may be players they have been working on for a while.
“Are we going to get experienced players? Are we going to get younger players in the mould of Maja and Asoro? There is nothing wrong with that, but in the bigger picture of the relegation fight, I think there needs to be a balance.”
PS: “It will go down to the wire and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the last two days of the window, particularly in the market Sunderland are shopping in.”
On Chris Martin:
Sunderland want to sign the Derby County striker on loan until the end of the season and are waiting for a decision from the player having agreed a deal with the Rams.
Martin has been in Dubai this week with Derby on a warm-weather training trip.
NB: “If other clubs are interested, I think he would be more inclined to take that offer than move to Sunderland for four or five months in a relegation fight.”
“It is very fluid situation and can change.”
PS: “I get the feeling Sunderland feel his heart is not in the mood so they are inching towards ‘let’s not do this’.
“It could well be, that he comes back from Dubai and says ‘Derby were waiting to see if a permanent bid comes in, I had to go, I had no choice, but I want to come to Sunderland now’.
“That would be the best case scenario. The odds at the moment seem to be very much in favour of that not happening.
“These things do, though, change so quickly.”
Right decision to let James Vaughan go?
Sunderland sold James Vaughan to League One Wigan Athletic to leave Chris Coleman relying on Josh Maja and Joel Asoro up front.
Coleman is hoping to bring in two new strikers before the end of the transfer window.
NB: “I don’t think Vaughan would have made a big impact the last few games.
“Yes, he can hold the ball up, but Chris Coleman’s point was valid – he had scored two goals this season. The return hadn’t been good enough.
“He would rather have players who want to be at the football club. You can’t criticise Maja and Asoro, even when Maja was out of his depth at Cardiff he didn’t shy away.
“The pair showed their quality against Hull.”
PS: “It was the right decision to let Vaughan go.
“I don’t think Sunderland’s points haul would have been any better off if Vaughan was still here.
“It would have been a gamble not to sell him, if they had waited two weeks Wigan might have signed another striker.
“Wigan came in with money on the table, they did the right thing.”
On Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong future:
Both Kone and Vaughan have made it clear they see their futures away from Wearside, but they look set to remain at Sunderland unless a late bid comes in.
Kone made his return from a knee injury for the Under-23s this week, while Ndong is currently serving a suspension.
NB: “If Coleman can get inside their heads and it looks like he may have already won Kone around, even if it just to say ‘look, you play well for four months and you put yourself in the shop window and you might get your move to the Premier League in the summer, play yourself back into form.’
“The same goes for Ndong. I think they have to be realistic, and understand there is no point in them throwing their dummies out of the pram when they both could be playing and putting themselves in the shop window.
“Having Kone and Ndong back, Paddy McNair and Jonny Williams too, if they can get them fit adds options.”
PS: “There is very little talk of a move away.
“Watford have gone very quiet since Sunderland rejected their loan bid, that suggests there is very little interest in taking him on a permanent deal.
“With Kone, the word is that he has worked very hard to get himself fit. Proof will be in the pudding whether Coleman sees him as a realistic part of his plans.
“Someone has to have a bad game if is he to get back in.”
On the goalkeeping situation?
Sunderland have made an enquiry regarding Leeds United goalkeeper Andy Lonergan. The 34-year-old moved to Elland Road in the summer after Rob Green left the club, but is second choice behind Felix Wiedwald.
NB: “I think leave it as it is for the minute, Robbin Ruiter isn’t doing much wrong.
“There are bigger worries at the moment. Let’s get to the summer and reassess.”
PS: “They will be keen to avoid getting another goalkeeper in through panic who isn’t better than Ruiter or Jason Steele.
“Long-term Coleman will want his own number one, but it is very hard to get someone like that in January.
“Overall, I think he likes Ruiter and he is adapting to the English game all the time. Ruiter is his No1 for the time being, I don’t think that will change going into February.
“I don’t think there will be any significant changes until the summer and even then, Ruiter may have solved the problem by then if he continues to improve.”