Jack Colback will leave Sunderland this summer after resisting the club’s attempts to tie him down to a new long-term deal.
The Black Cats had been determined to retain the Academy graduate, but it has become clear over the last few weeks that the midfielder sees his future as lying away from Wearside.
Despite speculation that Newcastle may be interested in recruiting the Tynesider, The Journal understands that Fulham, West Ham United and Aston Villa are the Premier League clubs who have been tracking Colback’s availability.
The news has come as a desperate disappointment to Sunderland, who had made several attempts to offer him a contract well in excess of his current deal and thought they had met the demands of the 24-year-old.
Having helped him to develop through the Academy, they were hoping to make him a pivotal part of their attempts to bounce back next season – even if they are dumped into the Championship. But Colback seems to have other plans and the club have now suspended all contract talks with the midfielder as it has become clear that he is not interested in staying on Wearside.
Sunderland have begun their plans to re-shape their squad and, as well as Will Buckley of Brighton, they are also looking at Chelsea’s former hot prospect Josh McEachran, who is currently on loan at Wigan Athletic.
McEachran would appear to be surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge but is well known to Poyet and sporting director Lee Congerton.
Colback’s decision to leave is the biggest blow to Sunderland’s restructuring plans. Along with Phil Bardsley he is one of a handful of the out-of-contract players at Sunderland that Poyet would be interested in keeping at the club. Others, like Craig Gardner and Sebastian Larsson, have not been offered anything by the club and are set to depart in the coming weeks.
Colback has played more than 100 games for Sunderland and there is a feeling of disappointment among Academy staff that he has chosen to go elsewhere to chisel out a future in the game.
The club believed that they had done enough to retain him when they first entered into negotiations with his representatives, but it became obvious over the last week or so that there was going to be no resolution to the saga.
While social media buzzed with talk that Newcastle were ready to pounce for the midfielder, there is not understood to be interest from St James’ Park in the 24-year-old, who have other targets for their central midfield vacancy.
Instead, the main thrust of the interest comes from West Ham, Championship-bound Fulham and Aston Villa. Colback is out of contract at the end of the campaign.
Meanwhile, Poyet has defended his decision to drop John O’Shea for the trip to Tottenham – and revealed that he spoke to the Sunderland skipper before making the call.
Black Cats skipper O’Shea was the most high-profile victim of Sunderland’s poor recent form at White Hart Lane and was axed from the team and replaced by fellow veteran Carlos Cuellar.
Sunderland shipped five in a humiliating Monday night defeat to Tim Sherwood’s Spurs, but Poyet insists that he had to try something different in North London in an attempt to revive the club’s flat-lining survival bid.
“People think I woke up in the morning, had a dream and thought I’d change John and replace him with Carlos Cuellar,” said Poyet about his controversial decision.
“But it’s not like that. There are reasons, there are different games. It’s not just a reaction. Then, after the game, you realise whether you were right or wrong.
“I think Carlos did well and was probably the best of the three defenders.
“I changed him because we went to four (at the back) and he was the one who didn’t have the best fitness. But it’s not easy, it’s a difficult situation.
“I’m trying my best and using the players who I think can give us the most.”