David Bates’ contract at Rangers runs out this summer and he still has to prove to manager Graeme Murty that he deserves to follow in the footsteps of fellow young centre-backs Aiden Wilson and Ross McCrorie in inking a new deal.
Murty told the Scottish Sun this week that the former Raith Rovers youngster could earn an extended stay at Ibrox if he continues to perform, and Bates has been living up to his end of the bargain recently, even keeping Portugal international Bruno Alves out of the starting XI.
Ahead of Sunday’s Old Firm showdown with Celtic, the 21-year-old has perhaps another reason to keep pursuing that new contract, because the club who are keen to sign him in the summer are in crisis and seemingly heading for relegation.
Now, with John O’Shea well past his best, Lamine Kone and Jake Clarke-Salter only on loan from Chelsea, Bates would arguably boost his prospects of regular first-team football if he swapped Glasgow for Wearside.
But he would also more than likely have to join a club in the third tier. Sunderland are bottom of the Championship and, if the 3-0 midweek thrashing by Aston Villa is anything to go by, will be playing in League One for the first time since 1992.
While Rangers are on the rise, Sunderland’s collapse is continuing and the club’s alarming lack of funds means arresting this slide is easier said than done.
Needless to say, Bates is better off at Rangers. The task now is to earn that stay.