Sunderland legend Kevin Phillips has insisted that the Black Cats should be keeping hold of forward Charlie Wyke over the summer with them facing some major decisions on a host of out-of-contract players.
Lee Johnson’s side are firmly in and amongst the battle for the automatic promotion places in League One. The Black Cats’ 1-0 win against Bristol Rovers on Saturday keeping them well in the hunt and applying the pressure on Peterborough United and Hull City. However, whatever happens in the promotion battle Sunderland will need to start preparing plans for next term.
At the moment, the Black Cats are facing the issue of having a number of players who have played a key role for them this term heading into the last few months of their deals. That includes the likes of Wyke, Aiden McGeady, Grant Leadbitter, Josh Scowen, Max Power, Lee Burge and Luke O’Nien. That means that major decisions are going to need to be made by the club.
Speaking to Football Insider, Phillips suggested that they will keep hold of Wyke with him being a player capable of stepping up and performing well in the Championship should they go up. While he also suggested that there will need to be some major decisions made on the other players.
He said: “The worry is, the players out of contract at Sunderland are some of their best.
“There will be a lot of big decisions to make in the summer.
“Do you get them all back on contracts and give them a go in the Championship or take it as an opportunity to get these players off the books. That way they could get younger players in and go again. It could be seen as a chance to freshen their squad up.
“There are some massive decisions for the chairman to make but do not worry about it until the season is over.
“It will be interesting to see who is kept. I definitely think Charlie Wyke will. He would be a handful in the Championship next season if they get promoted.”
Phillips is right to suggest that Sunderland should be doing all they can to keep hold of Wyke and you would be surprised to see them allow the forward to leave in the summer given the impact he has made this term. The 28-year-old already has 22 league goals to his name in 34 appearances (Sofascore) and Johnson has been getting the best out of him since he arrived.
As for the rest of the out of contract players there will be a chance for the Black Cats to assess those and see who they believe are important enough to be kept hold off. You would have to believe the likes of O’Nien, Burge and even McGeady are worth keeping hold off at least given the form that they have been showing of late.
These are decisions that Sunderland need to get right if they are going to be able to build on promotion should they achieve it. With the potential also being there to free up the wage bill a bit and bring in some more quality players if they are preparing for life in the second tier.