Sam Allardyce will put contract renewals on the back burner until Sunderland have secured their Premier League status.
Three senior players in Sunderland’s squad - Steven Fletcher, Danny Graham and Adam Johnson - currently face the prospect of leaving the Stadium of Light for nothing when their deals expire next summer, with no talks yet to take place over extending their tenures.
Until we get out of trouble, there won’t be any serious contract negotiations, I wouldn’t thinkSam Allardyce
Striker Fletcher has notably begun to find some form over recent weeks, with the Scotland international netting twice in his last three Premier League games.
But Sunderland boss Allardyce says new contracts have to be used as an incentive, to give those players an extra reason for helping the Black Cats beat the drop.
Allardyce told the Echo: “I think Fletcher’s contract situation comes into play, in terms of he has to make sure that we sit down and give him one.
“That’s the same as all the other players out of contract here.
“Those players have to show they are worthy of getting a new contract, playing every week and getting us out of trouble as quickly as we can.
“Once that’s happened, then resolving those situations will come before we talk about bringing new players into the club.
“But until we get out of trouble, there won’t be any serious contract negotiations, I wouldn’t think.”
Fletcher scored Sunderland’s third goal in last weekend’s Wear-Tyne derby, and was the catalyst to the opener after winning the penalty which saw Fabricio Coloccini sent-off for Newcastle.
It was substitute Jermain Defoe who delivered the through-ball for Fletcher after the England international had been introduced from the bench.
Sunderland looked a far more potent side after Defoe replaced the ineffective and injured Ola Toivonen, yet Allardyce remains undecided over whether to use the pair in an orthodox 4-4-2 for Sunday’s trip to Everton.
“I think we played pretty well with Jermain, there’s no doubt about that,” added Allardyce.
“But the balance of that is will we be able to keep the opposition out if we play Steven and Jermain up front?
“I don’t know the answer to that yet because I haven’t been here long enough.
“But that combination in terms of the ability to score goals, would probably be your first choice as a manager.
“It’s whether the other eight behind can make sure that when the opposition get the ball, they get it back and don’t let them score more than us.
“But that’s something I have to find out.”