SUNDERLAND have responded to speculation surrounding Denver Hume’s future at the club with Portsmouth identifying the full-back as a potential target.

Hume’s future at Sunderland has been a talking point since the summer. The 25-year-old was a free agent during the summer months but was still training at the club as he continued his rehabilitation from long-term injury. His contractual saga continued through pre-season and into the start of the campaign where he eventually put pen-to-paper on a two-year deal in September.

Since signing his new contract, Hume has only made eight appearances in all competitions making just three starts in that time.

The Black Cats host Pompey on Saturday as their opponents emerge as potential suitors to bring Hume to the club in January.

Manager Lee Johnson has acknowledged Hume may well be unhappy with his level of playing time.

He said: “Denver is in a situation where he’s under contract with us. I think Denver would be disappointed in recent weeks. I know he’s keen to play in every minute of every game but that’s what you want.

“Obviously we had the whole saga over the summer with the contract, that was put to bed and I’ve been happy with Denver.

“There has been issues in between that. Whether it be fitness, form, Covid, all those bits and bobs but at the same time Denver is in a really good place and ready to jump in at the drop of a hat.”

While the nature of the January transfer window will see clubs testing the waters on potential targets, Johnson was quick to remind the media that it’s not be that long since Hume extended his stay with the Black Cats.

Johnson added: “I think you’d consider anyone that wasn’t happy for whatever reason but it can’t be at the detriment of the first-team and Sunderland’s challenge to go and get promoted.

“When you sign a contract, you sign a contract. Whether it’s my contract, your contract. I think sometimes in football, people forget about those contracts and this is definitely nothing to do with Denver.

“A contract for me is an important thing and you should stand up to it or somebody comes in and meets the terms of those contracts. I think that’s what Kristjaan (Speakman) means more than anything. Anything done, going out, is on our terms because we’ve got these players under contract and we’re no under financial restraints.

“If we were to accept an offer, it would be because we believe we could use that money well either within the club or on other areas of the pitch.”