CHRIS COLEMAN has made progress in his bid to rid the dressing room of unsettled players, claims defender Billy Jones who insists those Sunderland now have to call on are focused on staying in the Championship.

The Black Cats remain rooted to the foot of the second tier after last weekend’s crushing 4-0 defeat at Cardiff City and that has increased the need for a win when another struggling side, Hull City, travel to Wearside this Saturday.

Coleman has not attempted to hide the fact there have been players at his disposal who no longer wanted to be at Sunderland since taking on the challenge in November.

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Midfielder Jack Rodwell, training away from the first team, is known to have asked to leave, while in the last fortnight wantaway strikers Lewis Grabban and James Vaughan have both left.

The departures of Grabban, whose loan from Bournemouth was cut short, and Vaughan, to Wigan for £350,000, highlighted the problems because Coleman was even prepared to be left with just teenagers Joel Asoro and Josh Maja as his attacking options.

Didier Ndong, who will now serve a three-match ban after his appeal against Saturday’s red card was overturned, is another known to have asked to go, while Lamine Kone would prefer to.

But Jones, after trudging off the pitch at the Academy of Light yesterday, thinks the vibe around the place is already a lot different and that the atmosphere among the crop of players at Coleman’s disposal is good and focused on the challenge ahead.

The 30-year-old said: “The training group that was out there today, everyone seems to be working hard and putting in the 100 per cent commitment for the weekend.

“Obviously we have been in training, situations have cropped up where you have seen players who particularly aren’t happy, maybe want to leave, and they start to interrupt the sessions. At this moment in time everyone out there is focused on getting the result this weekend.

“I would say I am not really feeling that (negativity) at this moment in time in the dressing room. It’s good. Everyone training in there, you feel like they are going to give their all for the club and for yourself as a team-mate.

“That’s all you want as a team-mate, to look to the front or to the side knowing they are going to give everything they have for you and work their hardest. That’s the way I feel about all the team-mates out there training at this moment in time.”

Fighting spirit is exactly what Coleman wants to see from Sunderland’s players for the remaining 19 matches of the season, otherwise the unthinkable drop into League One will be on the cards.

He is no closer to bringing in a fresh face before the date with Hull, although Liverpool’s Ben Woodburn and Burnley’s Jon Walters remain two likely arrivals. Middlesbrough forward Ashley Fletcher has also emerged as a realistic option too, despite competition from Barnsley.

Sunderland’s moves to strengthen would be helped if they can sell Ndong. Watford remain in the market for him and there is a chance he has played his last game after having his red card appeal dismissed.

The Hornets have offered a loan deal with a view to an £8m deal in the summer depending on him playing a certain number of games. Sunderland are prepared to do business but only if they are guaranteed the fee.

Jones said: “It's an important transfer window and it is a boost to get new players in, and competition for places is massive and it really does help the squad.

“I'm sure the manager and the club are working their hardest to bring in the type of players we need and the gaffer wants.”

Jones is the type of character Coleman is keen to have in his squad to get them moving in the right direction and clear of danger.

The former West Brom full-back, who signed in the summer of 2014 as a free agent, could leave in the summer when he is out of contract. He is not, though, thinking that far ahead and is only focused on keeping Sunderland in the Championship.

He said: “To be honest, I am just working hard to make sure we stay in this league and then if the club wants to speak to me at the end of the season, we'll go from there.

“I've always enjoyed my time here as a Sunderland player even if it has been tough at times, with relegation battles.

“But as a club, everything is here – the fans, the facilities – and as a player you can't ask for more to perform to a consistent level with what you have got at your disposal.

“I'm really just concentrating on making sure that Sunderland is a Championship team and making sure we win this relegation battle and then move forward.”