Sunderland have made Louis Laing available for loan next season as the former England under-19 defender’s Black Cats career reaches a crossroads.
Long-regarded as the next Academy product who will break into the senior side on a regular basis, Laing’s progress has been set back by a combination of injuries and a manager in Martin O’Neill who was reluctant to rely on Sunderland’s young guns.
Now the defender, who is expected to travel with Paolo Di Canio’s squad to the Far East for the Barclays Premier League Trophy, has been offered to clubs in the Championship and League One – after being told to prove himself by the head coach.
While O’Neill was happy to allow the Academy and reserves to largely ‘take care of themselves’, Di Canio wants to be hands on with every aspect of the club.
And the Italian believes that the younger members of the squad should be as involved as possible in the first-team set-up.
He impressed insiders with his knowledge of fringe players and Academy graduates and illustrated his belief in the club’s production line by handing Billy Knott and Mikael Mandron starts during
the season’s run-in. But with Di Canio hopeful of landing senior recruits before the start of the campaign, he has told representatives of some of Sunderland’s young guns that they should go out on loan to help toughen them up.
Laing is one of the players who has been offered to Championship clubs – although there may be more chance of finding a club in League One or the Scottish Premier League for the former England under-19 stopper. Meanwhile, Di Canio is looking to kick-start Sunderland’s recruitment drive over the next two weeks – and wants as many new signings in before pre-season as possible.
The Black Cats expect to sell Simon Mignolet this week, with the Belgian booked in for a medical today.
That £9million fee should give Sunderland some further spending power to land one of the three strikers that Di Canio would like to bring in to his squad.
But Di Canio is understood to want the players in as soon as possible as he prepares for a pre-season that will involve plenty of work on the perceived shape, system and strategy that he wants to implement next term.
Mick McCarthy has rubbished suggestions that Titus Bramble will be returning to Ipswich, hinting that the former Sunderland man will be remaining in the Premier League.
Hull boss Steve Bruce, who could offer escape routes to several unwanted Black Cats this summer, has also been credited with an interest.
“It’s never even crossed my mind,” former Sunderland boss McCarthy said. “Titus Bramble will have other clubs interested from him, in the Premier League, and I have not spoken to the player or his agent.
“But I can’t say no because that would be a complete lie.
“What if he came here and said ‘Listen, I love living down here and this is where I come from, what’s your budget, what can you offer me?’, and I said ‘£500 a week’ and he said ‘I love it here and I’ll come and play’?
“I might consider it then under those circumstances. So, if I said no, I’d be lying.”