Black Cats boss Jack Ross has insisted that Lee Cattermole and Bryan Oviedo remain part of his plans – despite speculation linking the duo with an exit.
As the club’s two highest earners, the pair were tipped to leave this summer as Sunderland’s new regime look to cut costs following back-to-back relegations.
Speculation continues to rage on regarding their futures, with Oviedo having been linked with Club Brugge and more recent reports suggesting that Bordeaux – under the stewardship of former Sunderland bos Gus Poyet – are keen on Cattermole.
But the duo have remained on Wearside and featured in the Black Cats’ 1-1 draw at Luton Town on Saturday as Ross praised their conduct throughout his time in charge so far.
“When I took this job I tended to shy away from taking too much opinion before I took it,” he said.
“I wanted to gauge everyone myself and those two players have trained every day.
“Bryan had an extended break and I got off on a good foot because I gave him longer!
“They both trained today (Tuesday) and did really well. I think they’re enjoying it and they enjoy the environment they’ve created.
“Naturally, all of these players looked at whether they wanted to play in League One and what challenges would that bring.
“But the challenge for me was to give them something that made them want to be involved in what we’re doing.
“I’ve taken every player as I’ve found them and those two there have been absolutely no problem to me.”
One of the issues surrounding Oviedo is that Sunderland still owe Everton part of the transfer fee they paid when former manager David Moyes signed the Costa Rican and his team-mate Darron Gibson to the club in the January 2017 transfer window.
The left-back, and Cattermole, are both on more than £32,000 a week despite taking pay cuts after relegation from the Premier League.
Concerns may be raised about how the club can afford to keep the duo given their third tier status – but Ross is keen to focus purely on the footballing merits of the pair.
“There’s a number of players that, it’s obvious with where we’re at contractually, that it’s going to be a big ask for the club to carry forward,” he admitted, when discussing Cattermole’s role in the side.
“We’ve managed to do a lot in a short space of time that has helped us to be in a healthier position, but again Stewart (Donald) would likely be able to give you more clarity on how that affects us moving forward.
“From my perspective, in terms of looking solely on football, he remains very much part of the squad at present.”