STEWART DONALD is working behind-the-scenes to facilitate the departures of the Sunderland players who are not keen to play a part in the new era at the Stadium of Light.

The Black Cats owner is trying to ensure manager Jack Ross has a squad in place to push for an immediate return to the Championship next season.

But Donald has admitted there will be huge changes in terms of personnel given that many of those Ross has inherited no longer want to be on Wearside.

Jack Rodwell, due to enter the final year of his lucrative deal and an MLS switch is appealing, and Lee Cattermole, whose Premier League contract runs until 2021, are two of those believed to be keen to move on. Paddy McNair, wanted by a number of clubs, has also admitted he wants to return to the Premier League.

The likes of Lamine Kone, Wahbi Khazri, Papy Djilobodji and Didier Ndong are all angling for cut-price deals that will allow them to leave Sunderland too.

Donald is more than happy to let such players go, although he is also determined to make sure that any outgoing deal will suit the club he is looking to rebuild this summer to ensure they are a force to be reckoned with in League One.

Posting on social media site Twitter, Donald said: "Facts are there are very, very few players who have indicated they wish to stay with the club next season.

"So it is fair to expect a lot of comings and goings in the next few weeks. We do not need to sell any player who shows a desire to stay - but there aren't many of those!

"Not many of our current playing squad fancy playing League One football regardless of how or why we find ourselves at this level - albeit the agents are talking for some of them! I am sure some will stay and be happy to do so. We will see.”

While discussions are ongoing behind the scenes to move players on, Ross and Donald are in regular contact with the aim of bringing in the first signings of the new regime.

Sunderland are believed to have offered £200,000 for Ross County full-back Jason Naismith, although Aberdeen’s interest and willingness to do a player-plus-cash deal involving Greg Tansey has improved their chances of getting him.

Donald has so far been hugely impressed by the fans’ reaction towards his arrival and the increase in season ticket sales, so has rewarded them by confirming that they will be changing the seats at the Stadium of Light.

He has ordered 31,500 new seats to replace the faded red ones that have been a source of frustration for supporters for a long period of time.

Donald wrote: "Not the most important job at Sunderland AFC but one ticked off nonetheless: An order for 31,500 seats to replace those pink seats is being made so please look out for a press release over the coming days where we hope the fans can come down and help us to replace them."

Sunderland’s calls for supporters to back the new owners and manager was well received, with a surge of season tickets being sold to surpass the 20,000 mark for next season. It is hoped the sales will continue to move beyond the 21,000 barrier.