Carlos Cuellar keeps open mind after release by Sunderland

LEAVING SUNDERLAND: Carlos Cuellar
LEAVING SUNDERLAND: Carlos Cuellar

CARLOS Cuellar will keep an open mind over his next move after being released by Sunderland.

Cuellar is among three of the eight out-of-contract players at the Stadium of Light who are definitely heading for the exit door after confirming on social media last week that Sunderland were releasing him.

The 32-year-old has now returned to his native Spain, yet is unsure what lies in store for him next season.

Sources close to Cuellar have indicated that the centre-half will wait to see what offers are on the table before deciding his future and is open to either returning to Spanish football or continuing his career in England.

Certainly, Cuellar will not be short on suitors after totalling more than 100 Premier League appearances from his stints at Sunderland and Aston Villa.

Sunderland are yet to formally confirm Cuellar’s departure or clarify their intentions regarding the other players whose contracts come to an end this summer.

But left-back Andrea Dossena had his contract paid up before the end of the season after just seven Premier League appearances for the Black Cats.

And Craig Gardner is not being offered a new deal either, with the Brummie expected to join long-term admirers West Brom after three years at the Stadium of Light.

Goalkeeper Keiren Westwood is expected to depart too after being sidelined since November with a shoulder injury.

Championship outfit Blackburn Rovers have been mooted as possible suitors for the Republic of Ireland international.

But it is the futures of Jack Colback, Seb Larsson, Phil Bardsley and Oscar Ustari which Sunderland will hope to resolve this week when head coach Gus Poyet returns from holiday and holds a second round of talks with Black Cats chairman Ellis Short.

The prospect of a longer contract elsewhere could see Bardsley depart - even if the full-back would be happy to stay on Wearside - while Sunderland will have to address Ustari’s concerns over a lack of first-team football.

But Colback and Larsson are the two main players who Poyet will hope to keep at the club.

Both are in demand. As the Echo reported last week, 11 clubs are keeping tabs on Colback, while Italian big-hitters Napoli were linked with Larsson over the weekend.

Yet Sunderland sources have indicated that there is a strong possibility that the two midfielders, who played a key role in the Black Cats’ successful survival fight, will pen new contracts at the Stadium of Light.