Sunderland have today confirmed which players they are retaining at the club and who they have allowed to leave at the end of their contracts.
The four senior players to be released are Steven Fletcher, Steve Harper, Danny Graham and Wes Brown.
Could any of them do a job for Newcastle United?
If Newcastle were still in the Premier League then the answer would be an easy no – but in the Championship is it any different?
All four obviously live locally and you presume would be very interested if Newcastle showed interest.
Probably easy to dispense with two of them – Wes Brown is 36 now and only started six Premier League games last season, whilst Steve Harper is 41 and Newcastle have any number of goalkeepers.
As for the other two, on the face of it there is an argument that they could possibly have a use, especially with the pair being strikers and Newcastle looking short on that front.
Steven Fletcher (pictured above) cost a hefty £12m when the mackems bought him in 2012 and in those four years he has only scored 23 Premier League goals for them, having previously had a decent record for struggling Burnley and Wolves in the Premier League. Still only 30, Fletcher spent the end of the season on loan at Marseille and scored two goals in none Ligue 1 starts (plus three as sub).
Danny Graham also arrived at Sunderland in 2012 and whilst Fletcher’s goalscoring stuttered after the move, the former Swansea forward’s all but disappeared. Their £5m investment only brought one league goal in that time. (Have to say Martin O’Neill made some cracking signings in his time on Wearside, £17m on this pair for a start!)
A boyhood Newcastle fan, Danny Graham scored 24 in his final Championship season for Watford before moving to Swansea and then scored six in 18 during a loan spell for Middlesbrough in 2014.
Last season saw Graham again in the Championship and seven goals in 18 league games for struggling Blackburn suggests that this is his level.
Of the four, maybe Danny Graham is worth a punt as a free transfer and with recent goals in the Championship suggests there is no reason why he couldn’t do the same for Newcastle. Maybe not as first choice but a decent option off the bench?
Official Sunderland Statement on players released/retained Friday 10 June:
‘Sunderland AFC today confirmed the club’s retained player list for the 2016-17 season.
The list shows those players currently under contract with Sunderland AFC, or who have contract offers pending.
Players out of contract as of June 30, 2016 include Wes Brown, Steven Fletcher, Danny Graham and Steve Harper.’