Sunderland manager Lee Johnson has said there is ‘zero appetite’ to sell experienced centre-back Bailey Wright between now and the end of the transfer window, speaking to the press about the defender’s future.
17-year-old Callum Doyle and Danish defender Frederik Alves have arrived from Manchester City and West Ham United on loan this summer as additional centre-back options for the Black Cats to utilise, with Tom Flanagan regularly starting alongside Doyle in the early stages of the 2021/22 campaign.
This has left 29-year-old Wright sitting on the bench in the last few weeks – but will be eager to play a vital role on Wearside this term and lead his team to League One promotion at their fourth time of asking.
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After initially arriving at the Stadium of Light in January 2020 on a loan spell from Bristol City, he made his move to the north-east permanent last summer and signed a two-year deal to keep him at the club until 2022.
With less than 12 months left to run on his contract and a young family to support, Wright could be keeping his options open this summer for the sake of his long-term financial and playing security.
Wigan Athletic were one of the sides previously monitoring the Australian’s situation at the Stadium of Light, according to The Sun’s Alan Nixon.
But his current boss Johnson has seemingly ruled out a move for the experienced defender this summer, saying to the Northern Echo: “I’ve got zero appetite to lose Bailey Wright.
“Bailey has just had a beautiful little baby, and he’s only got a year left on his contract and there was interest, so naturally that’s going to spark up a thought process about where his future lies. But I’ve personally been extremely consistent in the desire to keep Bailey.
“He’s got to get in the team and play well, and then hopefully we can extend his contract. It’s as simple as that.
“I’ve seen the best of Bailey Wright, and obviously we’ve got to see that as much as possible, and I think we have this season.
“I think he’s had a good pre-season under his belt, a good off-season, and he’s worked hard with his injuries. He’s trusted as captain of the club.”
Although the recent arrival of full-back Niall Huggins may have also had a detrimental impact on Wright’s first-team chances, the fact the Australian can play anywhere across the back could be of great use to Sunderland through the 46-game league campaign.
Not only are they competing in League One, but they also have a Carabao Cup tie at Blackpool tomorrow evening, the FA Cup to get involved in at the start of the next calendar year and the EFL Trophy to compete in.
Regardless of their reinforcements this month, it’s clear Wright will be needed at some point throughout the season and this is why Lee Johnson is wise to keep hold of him beyond the summer despite rumours linking him with a move away.
You also have to consider the fact Doyle and Alves are loanees – and will leave a major void in the Black Cats’ defence when they return to their respective loan clubs on the expiration of their loan spells.
And with the experience Wright brings, he’s definitely worth having around the dressing room even when he’s not playing, as the third-tier side try to cope with the expectation of promotion and a return to the Championship.