SUNDERLAND are prepared to offload Connor Wickham if the Great Escape hero doesn’t pen a new deal at the Stadium of Light, admits Gus Poyet.
Wickham is seen as a key part in Sunderland’s plans after the £8million striker finally came of age last season when his five goals in three games played a pivotal role in the Black Cats remaining in the Premier League.
Talks have been ongoing with Wickham’s agent throughout the summer.
And Sunderland are quietly confident that Wickham, who has been interesting Leicester and Southampton, will agree to fresh terms at the Stadium of Light, with his current contract due to expire next summer.
But the club are also conscious of the need to avoid a repeat of this summer when out-of-contract Jack Colback left on a free transfer, albeit Sunderland would be owed compensation for Wickham due to his age.
Head coach Poyet says that may see Sunderland forced to offload Wickham, if the current talks over a new deal come to nought.
“For me, Connor’s situation is clear,” said Poyet.
“He needs to sign a new contract or we let him go – we sell him.
“There is nothing in between.
“He is an asset to the football club and we paid a lot of money for him.
“Last year he was a key part of us staying up and he was very important (to us).
“But he needs to realise that the club needs to look after the interests of the football club as well.
“I suppose that, one way or the other, we are going to have an agreement.
“Which one of those (sign a new contract or move on) is going to happen, I don’t know – it is not my job, that is (sporting director) Lee Congerton’s department.”
Poyet is not unduly worried by the Wickham situation though, particularly after the 21-year-old was able to prove his credentials after being recalled from a loan spell at Leeds United last season.
“Last year, I was the happiest one because I talked to him before he went to Sheffield Wednesday and I talked to him when he came back,” added Poyet.
“I spoke to him when he came back from Leeds, and I told him that every single player wants a run of four or five games.
“I told him that you won’t get that situation many times, but he had it with us and he responded.
“Now the situation has changed a little bit.
“But I am not worried about it (the situation).”