Gus Poyet won’t rule out keeping out-of-contract Sunderland stars


GUS POYET insists those out-of-contract players who are yet to hold any talks over a new deal could still have a future at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland have held several rounds of discussions with Jack Colback and Phil Bardsley in an attempt to tie down their services, with the pair in the final two months of their current deals.

So far, the Black Cats have proved to be unsuccessful with both players, although with Premier League survival now guaranteed, the club will make a fresh attempt to secure the futures of the duo.

That is particularly the case with Colback, who despite reports to the contrary, is yet to make any decision on his next move and could well remain at Sunderland.

But while Sunderland’s top flight status has remained in the balance, there has been no attempt to keep the other six out-of-contract players – Seb Larsson, Craig Gardner, Oscar Ustari, Keiren Westwood, Carlos Cuellar and Andrea Dossena, albeit the latter has already departed the Stadium of Light.

That has been taken as a sign that those players would be released at the end of the season.

Yet head coach Poyet says that is not necessarily the case.

Certainly, Larsson has played a crucial role in Sunderland’s remarkable transformation over the last four weeks, with the Swedish international producing an excellent run of form.

Back-up goalkeeper Ustari, whose only first-team appearances have come in the FA Cup, has also impressed Poyet with his performances in training and his attitude off-the-field.

Poyet told SportMail: “It’s very possible that some of them could stay.

“We didn’t negotiate with most, but it wasn’t because we didn’t want them.

“Everybody knows we’ve been in talks with Phil and Jack, but not with the rest.

“That wasn’t because we didn’t want them.

“We didn’t come to an agreement (with Bardsley and Colback) and then we decided to stop everything completely.

“At that time, we thought we were too early and everybody accepted that.

“The players have been spot-on with that. Not one has come to see me.”

After Sunderland secured their Premier League status with Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over West Brom, Poyet is using the run-up to Sunday’s visit of Swansea to speak individually with the members of his squad.

Poyet will immediately tell those that are not part of his plans where they stand, while he will also give an indication to loan players Fabio Borini, Marcos Alonso, Santiago Vergini and Ondrej Celustka of Sunderland’s intentions. The club’s fifth loan player, Ki Sung-Yueng, has already returned to his native South Korea.

It’s a welcome window of opportunity for the Black Cats boss, who has been forced to put his blueprint for next season on ice while Sunderland have been in the midst of the relegation battle.

“There’s a lot to do,” added Poyet. “It was practically perfection to get safe on Wednesday because that gave us yesterday, today and tomorrow to sit down with the players.

“Otherwise, we would have had to do come back in on Monday, rather than releasing the players after Sunday.

“After we couldn’t agree terms with the two players, Bardsley and Colback, I stopped everything on my side, although the recruitment system with (technical director) Lee Congerton continued.

“Every now and then, I would check things, but I didn’t watch one player from any division or talk to anyone.”