SUNDERLAND will be receptive to January offers for Lamine Kone, Jack Rodwell and Didier Ndong if Ellis Short has been unable to sell the club before the transfer window reopens.

Short remains keen to offload his 100 per cent stake in the Black Cats despite having pulled out of talks with a German consortium in the summer.

Those discussions broke down when financial obstacles could not be overcome and doubts emerged about the potential future direction of the club if a sale was agreed, but Short’s refusal to agree terms should not be confused with a desire to extend his Wearside tenure.

Sunderland are still on the market, with their Irish-American owner understood to have accepted he is unlikely to receive the asking price he was demanding at the start of the summer with the club currently struggling in the Championship relegation zone.

Ideally, Short would like to be able to sell before the end of the year, but with no bid currently on the table, the Black Cats owner has had to instruct chief executive Martin Bain to start making plans for the remainder of the season.

Bain’s summer transfer business reduced Sunderland’s wage bill considerably, and brought in £30m from the sale of Jordan Pickford, but the bulk of that money went on prior financial commitments and the £10m that was owed to Inter Milan thanks to the disastrous purchase of Ricky Alvarez.

Short is hoping to reduce the club’s current debt level further, and Kone, Rodwell and Ndong are regarded as the most valuable assets in the squad. All three will be available for sale at the turn of the year, although Bain will be determined to hold out for a realistic figure, especially if Sunderland’s league position does not improve in the next two months.

Kone was the subject of overseas interest in the summer, and there was also talk of a possible bid from West Ham. His form in the opening two months of the season has been patchy at best, but his previous performances under Sam Allardyce in particular means he continues to have admirers.

The same is true of Ndong, who became Sunderland’s club-record purchase when they shelled out £13.6m to sign him from Lorient. West Ham were also interested in the Gabonese midfielder in the summer, along with a handful of clubs in France. No formal bids were received, but even though Simon Grayson clearly values Ndong highly having picked him for every Championship game bar one this season, the Black Cats boss will have very little say if an offer is tabled at the turn of the year.

Rodwell has struggled to get much game time this term, and found himself being trialled as a centre-half during Tuesday’s Under-23s win over Hertha Berlin. However, he is understood to be the highest-paid player on Sunderland’s books, and is contracted to the Stadium of Light until the summer of 2019. As a result, the Stadium of Light hierarchy would ideally like to move him on if possible.

Rodwell played in the same team as Paddy McNair on Tuesday night, with the Northern Irish midfielder returning to action after an 11-month injury absence.

McNair scored the opening goal in a 2-0 win as he played for the first 45 minutes, and having completed his recovery from cruciate ligament surgery, the former Manchester United trainee is delighted to be back on the field.

He is now targeting a return to the first team, although Saturday’s Championship home game with QPR will almost certainly come too soon for him to be involved.

“It’s been a long ten months, so to get over the white line again was really good,” said McNair. “Playing football is what I love to do, and when it’s taken away from you, it’s not nice, so it’s great to be back.

“It was even better to get a goal because everyone likes scoring, and now I just want to get back and help the team. The Stadium of Light is a great place to play, so hopefully in a few weeks I’m back playing in front of a full house with the first team.”