Sunderland will leave outcast Danny Graham behind on Wearside as the Black Cats head out to Portugal later this morning.
Gustavo Poyet will take a reduced squad of between 18 and 20 players on the overseas trip and – with Steven Fletcher, Jozy Altidore and Connor Wickham all due to travel – Graham is among those who have not made the cut.
The striker has been deemed surplus to requirements at Sunderland and, after spending the whole of last season on loan, he is expected to move on this summer.
He has not figured in any of Sunderland’s three domestic friendlies so far, although Poyet insists that is not a snub and explained that the 28-year-old has been suffering from a back problem.
“Danny has had a spasm in his back,” said Poyet.
“He hasn’t trained for five days.
“I was trying to play him in one of the three games this week.
“But I’m not taking the whole squad to Portugal. There are people who are going to stay here. Danny is one of them. As everyone knows, we’ve got Fletch, Jozy and Connor, plus Fabio (Borini) if he comes in.
“It will be very difficult for Danny to be part of that group.”
Graham spent the first half of last season on loan at Hull City, before switching to join Middlesbrough – the club where he started his career – in January.
Boro are one of several sides to have shown an interest in signing him, but as yet there have been no concrete bids. As well as Graham, other players who do not figure in Poyet’s future plans such as Alfred N’Diaye, Modibo Diakite and Cabral, are expected to be left out of the party that will spend nine days on the Algarve.
Poyet said: “The squad will be between 18 and 20.
“For those who stay, it’s difficult for them.
“It’s not something I wanted to do.
“But there are players who are going to have a chance to be part of the squad and there are others that it’s going to be difficult for them to be part of it.
“It’s a matter of having the right squad and the right balance.
“They are still our players, still training and still getting paid.
“There is nothing wrong with that. But I need to make decisions.”
Sunderland will play three games while out in Portugal, starting on Tuesday night with a friendly against Spanish second division side Recreativo de Huelva.
They then play Portuguese top tier sides CD Nacional and Vitoria Setubal on Wednesday and Saturday respectively.
All three games take place at the Estadio Municipal de Albufeira.