Sunderland are set to re-open contract talks with Jack Colback over the coming days as the club look to tie down the Academy graduate to a new long-term deal.
Colback’s contract runs out at the end of the season but The Journal understands there is a determination at board level to keep hold of the midfielder, who turned down a contract offer in the summer. That was partly because he wanted to play more games in his favoured role of central midfield – a position he has been deployed in under new boss Gus Poyet, who has told him he has a central role in his plans for Sunderland.
Poyet will use the international break to sit down and analyse which of the clutch of out-of-contract players they should make January offers to. However it is understood retaining Colback, who is interesting Everton, is near the top of his list of priorities and he will recommend the club re-start negotiations.
The Black Cats may allow Craig Gardner to leave in January as he approaches the end of his contract.
He is understood to be one of the higher earners at the club and Sunderland know they need to alleviate their wage bill.
Speaking about formulating plans for January, Poyet had said: “We will wait until the international week to sit down and analyse things.
“That’s the time we decided with the club.
“We decided we would have those five or six weeks working with the players and then – after we have hopefully been winning – we will talk about individuals for January.
“Everyone wants to know who and where you want to bring people in.
“Even if you start winning, you might lose a key player to injury, but I would prefer to wait until then, it’s perfect because it’s the middle of November.”
As Sunderland consider the next move on their out-of-contract players, there is also a hope Wes Brown will be counted in for the relegation battle.
The central defender was in imperious form against Manchester City and Southampton but there are concerns about whether he can maintain it in the long-term.
Brown has revealed he has been given permission to miss the last 20 minutes of most sessions and believes that, as long as he manages to maintain his recovery programme, he will be available to contribute as Poyet’s men battle against the drop.
Brown said: “I have to recover well now. Some training sessions I actually don’t do so I’m getting properly pampered, but as long as I keep giving 100 per cent on the pitch that’s all I can do.
“We were always together but there has been a lift since the new manager has come in.
“He is wanting us to play differently and the lads are enjoying it.
“They can be confident on the ball and if we carry on like that we will keep on winning games.”
Another out-of-contract player Seb Larsson has spoken of his admiration for Gus Poyet and reckons the style of play under the former Brighton boss is much more suited to his game.
Larsson has turned in some of his finest performances in red and white over recent weeks.
He said: “The manager’s style of play suits me, much more than it has done under previous regimes.
“It’s up to the manager to decide how the team plays and you have to adapt as a player, but I love what we’re trying to do now and hopefully we can be successful.
“I felt good on Sunday. The first half felt good, although the second half was a lot more defensive work. I feel like I’m getting better and the pleasing thing was probably the defensive side.”