MAX POWER, Grant Leadbitter and Chris Maguire are among a group of seven senior players to have been released by Sunderland following last weekend’s defeat in the League One play-offs.

Callum McFadzean, Conor McLaughlin, Josh Scowen and Remi Matthews have also played their final games for the Black Cats and have not been offered new deals with the club.

Denver Hume, Luke O’Nien and Aiden McGeady will be offered new contracts at the Stadium of Light, although it remains to be seen whether they accept and opt to extend their time on Wearside given there is known to be interest in all three players from elsewhere.

Sunderland officials have also held talks with Charlie Wyke over a new deal, with last season’s leading goalscorer the subject of strong competing interest from clubs in both the Championship and League One.

The Black Cats have exercised an option to extend youngster Ollie Younger’s contract by another 12 months, but Dion Sanderson, Jake Vokins and Jordan Jones have all returned to their permanent employers following the end of their respective loan deals.

“We would like to place on record our appreciation to the players who will be leaving the club this summer,” said sporting director Kristjaan Speakman. “Although we have been unable to achieve our core objective, they were instrumental in bringing silverware back to Wearside and we wish each of them every success in the next stage of their careers.

“We have had to make some tough decisions, but we firmly believe they are in the best interests of Sunderland AFC in the long term.”

The departure of so many senior players has left a huge hole in the squad which Lee Johnson will attempt to plug via his recruitment this summer.

Power and Leadbitter have both worn the captain’s armband this season, and the latter’s departure could signal the end of a playing career that started when he stepped out of Sunderland’s academy to make his senior debut in a Carling Cup defeat to Huddersfield Town back in 2003.

“The players have worked extremely hard this season in very difficult circumstances and their reward for that was a trophy-winning season and a play-off spot,” said Johnson.

“We are all disappointed we couldn’t achieve our ultimate goal of winning League One, but we thank the players for their endeavours and commitment and we will always welcome them back to the football club with open arms.

“As we look to a new dawn, there are many reasons to be optimistic about our future as we continue to rebuild the football club.”