Sunderland youngsters could be offered new deals as Chris Coleman plots huge rebuild
Sunderland's manager knows what kind of team he wants to build.
He knows what he thinks a Sunderland team should look like.
His assistant, Kit Symons, hinted at it recently when he talked of creating a side that reflected the area it represents.
Building it in this era of austerity is the real challenge, and one that Chris Coleman is desperately hoping he will be given the scope and freedom to do.
Whatever league the club finds itself in next season, and whatever the budget, a core of young talent already at the club will be key.
The club have offered new deals to Josh Maja and Joel Asoro and are waiting for a response.
Lynden Gooch and George Honeyman also see their current deals expire at the end of next season and, though Coleman says no decisions have yet been made on potential extensions, he is eager to keep both on as part of a rebuild.
He said: “If you’re looking at the way it is going for us, it doesn’t look like we’re going to have millions of pounds to invest in new players.
“Joel and Josh are two good young players – their future should be here. That’s what they should concentrate on. There are offers on the table for them.
“With one or two of the other younger players who have a year left, of course you want to keep them and build around them, you don’t want to lose them.
“But, in the main, we’ve not spoken too much to players, we’ve tried to focus on trying to stay in this league
“Once we know our fate, one way or another, then we can move forward and look at things like that.
“We can look at contracts, whether there will be extensions. We’ll look at which players maybe will be moving on.
“I think there’ll be a lot of twisting and turning to be honest, probably in the next three to four weeks.”
Coleman has been effusive in his praise for Honeyman and Gooch, who have been key to the team’s improved performances in recent weeks.
Gooch has been ruled out for the rest of this season after a clash in injury time during the recent 1-1 draw with Norwich.
After dropping out of first-team contention earlier this season, the 22-year-old American bounced back with a bang in the 4-1 win at Derby County on Good Friday and looks set for a significant role next season.
Coleman described him as a ‘perfect example to any young player’.
He said: “The biggest thing I can say about Lynden Gooch is that he came and had a conversation with me, and asked what he was lacking. I told him, he went away and did it.
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“He came back and he has been fabulous. It is such a shame we have lost him (to injury).
“He brought energy, enthusiasm and just sheer determination. Credit to him, that is a real example to any young player.”
Honeyman signed a two-year contract towards the end of last season after breaking into the side under David Moyes.
He has gone one to play more Championship minutes than any other member of the current squad, and only Aiden McGeady, of the players still at the club, can match his tally of seven goals in all competitions.
Earlier this week, club legend Kevin Ball said he could see the 23-year-old developing into a future leader within the squad.
He said: “With George, you see that demeanour when he equalises against Sheffield Wednesday, how much it means.
“I kept rewinding and rewatching that because of what we’ve spoken about over the years.
“He’s always wanted to play in our first team, that’s always been his focus. Hopefully he’ll get better and better at that and hopefully, in time, leadership roles will fall on his shoulders because he’s got a natural talent for it.”
Coleman has previously described Honeyman as having as good a mentality as he has seen in the professional game.
The Black Cats boss says he has all the attributes he is looking for in his future squad.
He said: “George is a one-off, to be fair. I don’t expect everyone to be like him.
“I knew about him as a player, of course, but it is when you work with them that you find out about them.
“He’s a breath of fresh air for us, always has a spring in his step.
“That’s his enthusiasm for football and you can’t play at that.
“This football club needs a certain team, I think, with certain attributes.
“He’s not far short on all of those, to be fair to him.
“Certain things in his game he can absolutely get better at, but there is so much there that you need, so much of what he has you just think is absolutely fabulous.”