Sunderland may struggle to hang on to Luke O’Nien, Aiden McGeady and Denver Hume while star striker Charlie Wyke has clubs in the Championship competing for his signature, according to the Northern Echo.
Here we are again. Déjà vu. Groundhog Day on Wearside.
When Lee Johnson’s Black Cats beat Tranmere Rovers in the Papa John’s Trophy final in March, the narrative was their Wembley hoodoo had been vanquished at last.
Unfortunately for Sunderland, they never got the chance to prove the curse had been lifted. The north east giants lost to Lincoln City in the League One play-offs before they even got to Wembley, going down 3-2 on aggregate during a gut-wrenching, two-legged semi-final.
As a result, a fourth successive League One season beckons and, should the club lose four of their best players, who’s to say a fifth, sixth or even a seventh won’t follow?
Could Sunderland lose players to league above?
Home-grown left-back Hume, fans’ favourite O’Nien and the mercurial McGeady – arguably the most gifted footballer in the third tier – are all out of contract on 1 July.
The Echo reports the trio will be offered new deals but whether they sign them, in the wake of interest from elsewhere, remains to be seen.
30-goal top-scorer Charlie Wyke, meanwhile, has admirers in the Championship.
Club opens Wyke talks
Sunderland have opened talks with the one-time Hartlepool United frontman. Understandably so, given it would be exceedingly difficult to replace a man who became the first player since the legendary Kevin Phillips more than 20 years ago to break the 30-goal barrier in a single season.
“I’ve been amazingly impressed – he’s a great lad,’ Johnson said of Wyke.
“I think, first and foremost, you always look at the human being because it’s even better when a great fella is scoring goals.”
The Echo adds Chris Maguire, Grant Leadbitter, Max Power, Josh Scowen, Callum McFadzean, Conor McLaughlin and Remi Matthews have already been released.
Earlier this week, TEAMtalk reported West Ham United want to sign Sunderland youngster Josh Hawkes.