JACK COLBACK is ready to make a decision on his Sunderland future – with arch-rivals Newcastle United waiting in the wings.
The 24-year-old midfielder has been mulling over his next move and has told those close to him that he wants to make a decision by the end of the week.
He can now talk to interested clubs ahead of a summer when he is due to become a free agent and Newcastle are among the leading contenders for his signature.
West Ham United are also keen on taking him to London, while Celtic, Everton, Hull City and Aston Villa are also keeping an eye on the situation.
The uncertainty is not something Colback wants as he goes in to the summer and he is ready to make up his mind on whether to stay at the Stadium of Light this week.
The homegrown midfielder, who hails from North Tyneside, has been on Sunderland’s books since he was an academy talent, but he has been one of the lowest paid members of the first team squad in the last few years.
Gustavo Poyet, the Sunderland boss, has made it no secret that he would like to keep the player on Wearside and sporting director Lee Congerton has been in contract discussions aimed at keeping him.
Colback was a key part of the turnaround under Poyet and his performances helped Sunderland stay in the Premier League and fight off the threat of relegation.
He is one of the “three or four” players Poyet has indicated to Congerton that he wants to keep after allowing goalkeeper Keiren Westwood, defender Carlos Cuellar and midfielder Craig Gardner to leave on Bosman frees.
Gardner is on the verge of completing a move closer to his Midlands roots. The 27-year-old has been in talks over a move to West Bromwich Albion and is expected to undergo a medical sooner rather than later.
West Brom have been long term admirers of the former Aston Villa man and he was previously targeted when Steve Clarke was in charge of the Baggies, who have not appointed Pepe Mel’s successor yet.
Another Sunderland midfielder, Alfred N’Diaye, meanwhile, faces another summer of uncertainty. The Senegal international has been on loan at Real Betis, but the Spanish club have revealed they will not be taking up the option of a permanent deal after his loan to La Liga.
Given the reducing midfield options available to Poyet, he could decide to take a look at N’Diaye during pre-season.