Sunderland owner and chairman Ellis Short (L) and development coach Kevin Ball in discussion prior to the Barclays Premier League match against Arsenal.
As if things weren't bad enough for Sunderland fans currently, the Northern Echo now reports that owner Ellis Short is keen to offload some of their key players in the January transfer window.
Short wants to sell the club but with talks with a German consortium breaking down over the summer and the Irish-American likely to receive even less than his original asking price because of the Black Cats' struggles in the Championship currently, he is making plans to recoup some funds.
Lamine Kone of Sunderland in action during the pre season friendly against Hibernian.
That is why chief executive Martin Bain has been instructed to sell high earners Lamine Kone, Didier Ndong and Jack Rodwell in the New Year if the 57-year-old hasn't sold the club by then.
Rodwell is understood to be the highest earner at the Stadium of Light and in truth has struggled to assert much influence on the side since his 2014 switch from Manchester City, but losing Kone and Ndong would be a major blow for manager Simon Grayson.
The former may have been in indifferent form so far this term at centre-back, but his previously impressive displays under Sam Allardyce shows that the Ivory Coast international could be a potentially influential figure in the second tier of English football.
Didier Ndong of Sunderland and Callum Reilly of Bury in action during the Carabao Cup First Round.
Ndong, meanwhile, became a club record signing in the summer of 2016 when he joined from Lorient for £13.6m and although the midfielder was part of a team that was relegated that season, the 23-year-old is still highly rated by Grayson and has the required quality to help the Wearside outfit out of trouble.
West Ham United are understood to be interested in both players, but with finances already limited and results having been poor, the departure of the duo in January would leave the North East side in an even more perilous position than they're already in.