SUNDERLAND face a fight to hang on to homegrown star Jack Colback.
The 24-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and negotiations over a new deal have yet to resume after he rejected an initial offer from the club over the summer.
That means that with every week that goes on without progress on a new deal, Colback’s position strengthens while the Black Cats increasingly run the risk of losing one of their brightest Academy products for nothing in the summer
Everton have already been linked with interest in a player who will be able to listen to other interested parties in January ahead of a potential Bosman departure next June.
Sunderland had a chance to nail down the start in the close season but their offer of a contract extension is understood to have been on virtually the same terms Colback agreed when he penned his current deal in 2012.
And it is not surprising that the young Tynesider felt he was worth a more substantial offer after becoming a regular in the side since then.
Sunderland attempted to re-open talks this month but the useful utility player has decided to wait and see how he fits into new boss Gus Poyet’s plans ahead of returning to the negotiating table.
“In any contract talks, a change of management will stall things because the new manager needs to see who he wants,” said Colback.
“And, with the position we are in in the league, it’s not really at the forefront of anyone’s mind.
“I have been approached to restart talks but I said I would just be patient and see how it went. But I’m hoping to get something sorted.”
With Sunderland taking just one point from their first 24 this season and their position still precarious in the Premier League, the Black Cats’ survival prospects could also come into Colback’s reckoning as he weighs up his options.
And he will not be unaware that should Sunderland be relegated he will have immediate options to return to the Premier League.
It is an issue which Sunderland should really have sorted out last summer and something they will hope to successfully resolve in the near future.
Poyet has spoken glowingly of Colback’s potential and the youngster was man-of-the-match operating in midfield in the stirring derby victory over Newcastle United recently.
There is no doubting his attachment to the club he has been at since the age of 10. And although he has been used sparingly and often as a bit-part player since making his full league debut in April 2011, he is already closing in on 100 appearances for Sunderland in all competitions
Despite the failure to agree a new contract at the moment, no-one should doubt that he remains as committed as anyone at the club to Sunderland’s cause.
“The most important thing is that we get out of trouble,” he said.
“We’ve won two out of our last three games to give ourselves a chance and it’s important we follow that up by bringing something home from Stoke this weekend.”