Kristjaan Speakman has dropped an encouraging hint on the future of Sunderland defender Bailey Wright.
In a recent interview with the Sunderland Echo, the Black Cats sporting director suggested that fans should not be overly concerned regarding the speculation surrounding any of the club’s players, including the centre-back who has been heavily linked with a move away from the Stadium of Light this summer.
The 42-year-old continued by reinforcing his belief that he and his side are in the process of putting together as strong of a squad as possible at Sunderland, rather than simply cashing in on a player if interest in their services arises.
In the interview, Speakman said: “I’d always say not to get too concerned about speculation. What I would say is I hope there’ll be a confidence that we won’t let a player go unless it’s in a situation that suits the football club.
“We’re well blessed because we’ve got a lot of players who would complement squads in the Championship and League One, and so there will be interest in them.
“When you’ve got players coming into the final year of their deal, there will naturally be interest. We’ll work on a case-by-case basis, and be flexible enough to deal with any changes we need to make. But we’re trying to build a stronger squad, not a weaker squad.”
While Speakman does not mention Wright by name, it is abundantly clear that the sporting director is referring to the defender in his comments, and the position the 42-year-old appears to have on the potential sale of the centre-back will undoubtedly leave fans of the club buzzing.
Lee Johnson is neither blessed with a wealth of talent or depth in the heart of his Sunderland defence, with the 29-year-old very much appearing to be one of the manager’s best options in the position.
Indeed, over his 35 League One appearances for the club last season, the £720k-rated man helped his side keep 10 clean sheets, as well as making an average of 0.8 interceptions, 0.9 tackles, 4.6 clearances and winning 5.9 duels per game.
The defender also chipped in for his side going forwards, scoring two goals and taking an average of 0.7 shots per match.
These returns saw the man Johnson dubbed a “warrior” earn a seasonal SofaScore match rating of 7.05, ranking him as the Mackems’ seventh-best performer in the third tier of English football last season.
As such, sanctioning the sale of the £13k-per-week centre-back would appear to be something of a mistake by Speakman and his transfer team this summer, particularly to a Wigan Athletic side who could well be one of the club’s promotion rivals next season, meaning that the sporting director’s latest comments are likely to be well received by the Stadium of Light faithful.