JIM RODWELL admits Sunderland are “fishing in the dark” when it comes to assessing whether Jon McLaughlin, Tom Flanagan and Chris Maguire will sign contracts to remain on Wearside next season.

The trio have all been offered a new deal with the Black Cats, with their existing contracts due to expire at the end of this month.

However, McLaughlin is understood to have held talks with Championship side Blackburn Rovers, while Maguire is known to be attracting strong interest from a number of Sunderland’s rivals in League One.

Rodwell would like to get the trio’s future resolved in the next few weeks, but the chief executive admits it is far from clear whether the three senior players will agree to extend their stay at the Stadium of Light.

“We’ve offered contracts to three of the guys, and at the moment, we’re taking a punt,” said Rodwell, who was appointed earlier this summer. “We haven’t offered contracts to anyone other than people in our squad currently.

“You have to tell them something – and I suppose the easiest decision would just have been to say to the guys that we would have a conversation with them in a month, two months.

“Those players, if there’s anyone else who is prepared to offer them a deal, they’re quite within their right to do that anyway.

“But we thought the fair thing to do was that for the players we really saw as part of our future and trying to get promoted next season, we thought all we could do was offer them a contract.

“It was as simple as that, but we’re fishing in the dark to be honest with you. It is a little bit of a punt.”

While Sunderland have offered new terms to McLaughlin, Flanagan and Maguire, they opted to release Joel Lynch, Alim Ozturk, Jack Baldwin, Ethan Robson and Duncan Watmore.

Ozturk spent two years on Sunderland’s books, having joined on a free transfer in the summer of 2018, and leaves having made 45 senior appearances for the Black Cats.

“I want to say thanks to everyone for their support for the last two years and wish this beautiful club Sunderland all the best in the future,” he wrote in a post on Instagram. “It’s time for a new chapter. It was a pleasure and honour for me, thanks again.”

Baldwin was similarly magnanimous despite having fallen out of favour dramatically in the last 12 months. The centre-half spent the final stages of the season on loan at League Two side Salford City, having initially tumbled down the pecking order under Jack Ross.

“So my time at Sunderland has come to an end,” wrote Baldwin on social media. “I’d like to thank everyone at the club for making me feel welcome from the moment I stepped in the door.

“Signing for the club was a massive step in my career, unfortunately it didn’t play out the way I had hoped. But nonetheless I met some great people and (had) an opportunity I’m extremely grateful for. I wish the club all the very best for the future.”

Sunderland apologised yesterday for a processing error that meant supporters who have cancelled their 2020-21 season card still received a new direct debit mandate notification. The situation was resolved by the club’s ticketing partner, Ticketmaster.