Sunderland have big decisions to make regarding three of their current first-team squad.
Three Sunderland players are now in the final year of their current contract, so who is likely to be handed an extension and who looks set for the exit in less than 12 months?
Wes Brown, John O’Shea and Connor Wickham are all in the final 12 months of their current deals, and with players free to discuss pre-contract agreements from January Gus Poyet will be keen to tie down any players that he wishes to keep in the next four months.
The situation surrounding Wickham has been much publicised, with the striker’s future remaining unclear and the very real possibility that he could leave for a free next summer.
Poyet will not want that to happen, but the Black Cats must ensure they offer the 21-year-old a deal that reflects his ability and his importance to the team. With four months in which to put their complete faith in the front-man, there is still a chance they could secure his long-term future if he buys into Poyet’s blueprint for the future.
The fates of Brown and O’Shea are, in their own way, just as interesting.
With a combined age of 67, the time may be right to start bringing younger centre-backs through at the Stadium of Light.
But despite questions surrounding their ability to play a full season, the former Manchester United duo’s experience remains vital, and the likelihood is that both players will be offered extensions, even if only for a season at a time.
Likely to stay: Brown, O’Shea
Likely to leave: Wickham