Gus Poyet is eyeing a reunion with Brighton winger Will Buckley next season – whatever division Sunderland are in.
The Black Cats’ disastrous run since the Capital One Cup final has left them teetering on the brink of the Championship, and Poyet admitted on Monday night that it would require a “miracle” to dig his team out of the mess they have caused for themselves.
But if there is one sliver of a silver lining to the dark clouds that have circled the Stadium of Light it is that Poyet has already begun planning for the summer, and sees winger Buckley as exactly the type of young, hungry player that can refresh his squad.
A contingency plan for relegation has been mapped out, and with many of the players having agreed to a relegation clause that will see them take wage cuts, the club believe they can still offer the manager a transfer budget for the summer if the club go down.
He is interested in Buckley, who was keen to make the switch alongside Liam Bridcutt in the January transfer window. The Seagulls turned a series of offers down but Poyet is advocating the club return to the South Coast outfit to make another offer in the summer.
Indeed Poyet’s main concern with his current team is the lack of cutting edge which has undermined them almost from the start of the campaign. He also wants players who are willing to buy into his footballing philosophy.
Poyet is ready to cut loose many of the senior professionals who have landed Sunderland in their current predicament and Seb Larsson and Craig Gardner will both be allowed to leave on a free while the club will – through necessity – listen to offers for Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson.
The club are ready to sell Alfred N’Diaye, who is wanted by Real Betis, and privately accept that Ki Sung-Yeung and Fabio Borini will be out of reach if the club drop into the second tier.
The club have moved close to agreeing a deal with Phil Bardsley but it remains to be seen whether relegation will affect either Sunderland or the defender’s determination to stay on Wearside. West Ham are understood to be monitoring the right-back, along with Hull City – who could book a place in next year’s Europa League if they win their semi-final against Sheffield United this weekend.
Meanwhile, Mikael Mandron has signalled his desire to break back into the first-team picture after a short spell on loan with Fleetwood Town in League Two, which helped to toughen him up.
“The game is quicker and much more physical,” the young French forward said.
“I really enjoyed it and I think going out on loan is a great experience for a young player.”