Sunderland manager tells duo they can still leave in January if displays attract interest

Didier Ndong
Didier Ndong

Simon Grayson is confident that Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong will continue to show a positive attitude after the transfer window shut without any bids for the pair materialising.

The Black Cats boss is aware that there may well be movement when the market opens again in January, and has told the pair to perform from now until then.

He will, however, make a late call on their involvement against Sheffield United on Saturday afternoon after the pair completed a demanding travel schedule to fulfil their international duties.

He said: “I spoke to them both in the lead-up to the Barnsley game and said, ‘Look, we’re very open with the situation – if we get an offer in and you want to leave, if it’s acceptable to all parties I’m sure it will be considered. If it doesn’t happen I would like you to be dedicated, get your heads down and work hard and we’ll see what happens in January.

“Both were really positive in what they wanted to do and I think their performances up to deadline day suggested that. They both were very good and having good players is going to benefit us.”

“Speaking to them before the start of the season and throughout, I just keep telling them to play well because I said before deadline day that if players are playing well other clubs are going to show interest and be attracted to these players,” he added.

“They’ve done well but if they want to leave the club in January their performances will decide that.

Grayson admits he was well aware of the reputation of players in the Sunderland squad after their tame relegation last season, and was keen to move on the likes of Wahbi Khazri and Jeremain Lens before the end of the summer window.

He has been impressed by Kone and Ndong’s application since arriving at the club, but admitted he will have to make a late call on their availability this weekend after international duty.

He said:“I was worried about other lads as well that I knew the names of, don’t worry about that!

“Credit to Martin Bain. He’s worked alongside me and I said I didn’t want players who don’t want to be here so do whatever it takes to get them out. That can sometimes be more positive than bringing players in because of the atmosphere it creates, the negativity. Full credit to the club for listening to me and doing what I wanted.

“These lads [Kone & Ndong] haven’t been one bit of trouble whatsoever, they’ve shown a good attitude.

“I’m waiting for them to come back from international duty and hopefully they’re all fit and able and ready to compete again.

“Those two and Bryan Oviedo have travelled some long distances and that’s something we’ll have to take into consideration – the time differences, the distances they’re travelling and the number of games we’ve got coming up,” he added.

“We have got good options right the way through the squad so it is something we’ll consider for Saturday. That’s why I’ve not been able to do as much work as I’d like to do on the team I want to play. We’ll see where everyone is if they’re back!”