Contract talks for Sunderland stars on hold as focus remains on survival

Gus Poyet.
Gus Poyet.
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GUS Poyet says none of his out-of contract players have been banging on his door demanding to know what the future holds for them.

And the Sunderland head coach says that’s exactly the attitude he wants as he makes staying up this season the overwhelming priority at the club in the next couple of months.

The Black Cats have a host of players whose contracts end this summer – something which could easily become a distraction.

But Poyet says any contract talks have been put on hold as the club focuses only on its Premier League survival battle and he is pleased that none of his squad have been looking to force the issue.

“I have not told any of the players who are out of contract that they are free to look for another club this summer,” he revealed.

“I think the players are clear enough. No one has come to me and asked me about it.

“I didn’t want to start talks anyway because it can be taken the wrong way if you are not careful.”

Sunderland have seven players out of contract this summer.

The deals of Craig Gardner and Seb Larsson, who both arrived from Birmingham City in the summer of 2011, will expire at the end of June.

Home-grown product Jack Colback has yet to agree a new deal while veteran defender Carlos Cuellar, the club’s longest-serving player Phil Bardsley and Republic of Ireland keeper Keiren Westwood are similarly out of contract.

Former Napoli full-back Andrea Dossena joined Sunderland on a one-year contract at the start of the season and that too expires this summer.

On top of that, Gus Poyet has other contract issues to look at – with Ki Sung-Yueng and Fabio Borini’s season-long loan deals expiring, and the short-term contracts of Santiago Vergini and Oscar Ustari also up for review.

The Black Cats’ head coach, though, is insistent that all his players should be concentrating solely on their football.

And he says whether players are in or out of contract is irrelevant to who gets selected in the final 10 Premier League games of Sunderland’s season.

“My view is that players have to take the attitude of when does my contract finish? 30th of June?

“OK, then I’m a player for this club until the 30th of June.

“I’m the head coach here, I will play you regardless of your contract situation – and I want you to give me everything, regardless of your contract.

“That should be enough.

“Your contract does not finish in January, it finishes in June.

“So give me everything until June and if you show me everything in training, I will play you anyway, regardless of your contract situation.

“It doesn’t matter if we offer a player a contract and he says he’s not going to sign - that doesn’t mean I’m not going to play that player anymore

“He will play, I promise you, if he’s impressing me with his attitude and his ability in training.

“But I think that that approach of having respect and trust for each other is working so far, so I’ve got no problems with any of the players in that direction.”