PAOLO Di Canio says every player who remains in Sunderland’s squad after the transfer deadline window closes will have their part to play in the season ahead.
It is no secret that the Italian head coach has been open to offers for many of his first-team squad this summer – the players involved know it too.
But Di Canio (pictured) insists that once the window closes at 11pm on September 2, there will be no question of players being shunned or frozen out and that all should consider themselves important members of the squad from that point on.
The obvious exception to that promise will be Phil Bardsley, who was this week suspended by the club after an Instagram message which appeared to be mocking Sunderland over their opening-day defeat to Fulham.
Full-back Bardsley had already been ostracised for late-night shenanigans in a casino in the week before the end of last season, but this latest incident can only serve to speed his exit from the club and underline the fact he will never play for Sunderland again.
That’s not a prospect that Di Canio is offering to any of his players whose futures have been cast into doubt by major restructuring.
Di Canio told the Echo: “I do not expect many players to leave before the transfer deadline – maybe one or two, but not many.
“A lot of players leaving is simply not part of the plan – we do not have a big squad – and so I will look to make the most of every player. I have no intention of excluding anyone and will have a chance to play a part.”
That will be good news for midfielders David Vaughan and Lee Cattermole who have not been involved in Sunderland’s main pre-season games and also for the likes of Stephane Sessegnon, Ji Dong-won and Carlos Cuellar, who have all been the subjects of speculation this summer.
Sunderland have brought in 10 new signings this summer, with Greek winger Charis Mavrias expected to become the 11th this week.
But they have also lost half a dozen players from last season’s first-team squad and Di Canio does not want to leave himself short for the long season ahead.
The head coach added: “We have improved our fitness levels, but we also need to rotate players over the course of the season to keep them fresh.
“That is particularly important in the cup games where you might need to make plenty of changes to the team which competes, but you are also aware of the need for the team to still be good enough to win those cup games.”