Three players Sunderland must sell in January, including injury-prone ace

Sunderland fans celebrate during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Everton at the Stadium of Light on May 11, 2016 in Sunderland, England.

Sunderland need to sell to buy - the harsh reality dictates that they must cash in on a number of their prized assets in January.

Sunderland player Lamine Kone reacts during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Sunderland at Etihad Stadium on August 13, 2016 in Manchester, England.

Cash-strapped Sunderland are in desperate need of raising funds ahead of a January transfer window that could determine whether they survive in the Championship or suffer a potentially ruinous second successive relegation.

If The Black Cats are to hang onto their final life, their first priority must be to find a buyer for three potentially valuable assets.

Lamine Kone

If only Sunderland had caved in and let the Ivorian centre-back (above) leave for Everton in the summer of 2016. According to Sky Sports, The Toffees had made a bid of £18 million for the defender after his sterling performances helped Sunderland pull off a ‘great escape’ under Sam Allardyce.

It’s a measure of just how far Kone has fallen, then, that he is no longer a guaranteed starter for a club who are currently bottom of the Championship.

The powerful and aggressive centre-back who shone under Allardyce has looked error-prone and disinterested since. And with former Sunderland boss David Moyes wanting to reunite with Kone at West Ham for some reason, per The Sun, the Wearsiders will only be too happy to let him go.

Didier Ndong

Didier Ndong of Sunderland and Callum Reilly of Bury in action during the Carabao Cup First Round match between Bury and Sunderland at Gigg Lane on August 10, 2017 in Bury, England.

Gabonese midfielder Ndong is Sunderland’s £13.6 million record signing (BBC). It’s about time the 23-year-old started acting like it. Like Kone, Ndong arrived in the North East via Ligue 1 side Lorient and, like Kone, has performed well below expectations since Sunderland’s relegation to the Championship.

It doesn’t help that the normally combative midfielder was asked to play in a deeper role under Simon Grayson, a position that does not get the best out of his box-to-box abilities. Yet, Ndong's attitude in training has been questioned at times – and that is unacceptable at any level.

Sunderland simply cannot afford passengers. Certainly not expensive ones.

Paddy McNair

Unlike Kone and Ndong, you cannot accuse of McNair failing to perform this season. The Northern Irish international has only started one Championship game after all, returning after a year on the sidelines with injury.

Paddy McNair of Sunderland is helped to his feet by the club physio after sustaining an injury during the Premier League match between Sunderland and Hull City at Stadium of Light on...

Yet, the harsh reality facing Sunderland dictates that any player with a decent market value could be in danger of the chop. With plenty of time on his side at 22, and with injuries ensuring he is not tainted by the struggles of the last 12 months, McNair could still earn Sunderland a pretty penny in the transfer market.

Capable of playing in a variety of defensive positions, the former Manchester United youngster could be a valuable squad player when fit, however.

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