SUNDERLAND have no desire to cash in on their prized assets this summer and the club consider itself to be in a strong negotiating position against any potential interest.

The Black Cats are ready to offer Ross Stewart a new contract at the club after his 26 goal haul last season helped them to Championship promotion. There has been reported interest from North-East neighbours Middlesbrough and Scottish Premier League side Rangers as he enters the final year of his current deal next season.

Meanwhile, Dan Neil has been the subject of reported interest in the January transfer window and the club are braced for further interest. However, he remains under contract until 2025.

Lynden Gooch, Bailey Wright and Patrick Roberts are all out of contract in the summer and are currently considering offers from the club to commit their futures to the Stadium of Light.

After the club confirmed their retained list last week, the feeling is that they want to keep the core group of players that led them to promotion to the Championship for next season as they look to consolidate their position in the second tier. On that theme, they have engaged in talks with Premier League side Everton over Nathan Broadhead to discuss the possibility of bringing the 24-year-old striker back to Wearside.

Regarding their players that are currently tied down to longer term deals including academy products such as Neil, Anthony Patterson and Elliot Embleton, the club’s Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman admits that the ball is in their court when it comes to making decisions on any potential interest in those players.

However, that comes as a balancing act and they need to ensure they are creating the right environment for them to want to stay.

“From our contractual status and planning, we have got players that are on contracts where it’s Sunderland’s decision what happens to those players to a certain degree” said Speakman.

“We are constantly negotiating with players. You want happy players in the club to obviously then perform but ultimately we are putting ourselves in position where we are protecting the club. We are looking after the players and therefore everyone is happy.

“We want players that want to play at the highest level. I’ve got no issue with players in League One saying they want be in the Championship or players saying ‘if we are going to be stuck in League One, I want to move to the Championship’. They are the players you want. You don’t want the players that are happy just doing what they are normally doing.

“We have got to try and service them with having the club in the right league. At the minute, that puts us in the box seat. Hopefully in a few years, we’re going to be talking about Premier League teams taking our players and we have got to try and get in the Premier League to keep those players again.

“There are some really talented individuals regardless of age in our squad that I think are going to be really important for us next year.”

The Black Cats are readying themselves for a season in the Championship with are return for pre-season training scheduled this month. They will fly out to Portugal for a week long training camp.

Whilst the club are focussing on how they can keep their core group of players, they will be looking to make additions in the summer. They are lining up a potential move for free agent goalkeeper John Ruddy who was recently released by Wolves. Sunderland are in need of a goalkeeper for next season after releasing Lee Burge and Thorben Hoffman's loan spell coming to an end.

The club’s hierarchy have been discussing the plans for next season in terms of budget, ambition and recruitment as the Black Cats look to iron out their aims for the year. However, those plans may well be predicated on the outcome of Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven’s sale of shares in the club.

While the club irons out plans for next season, it looks likely that it could be without shareholders Donald and Methven.

The pair have accepted an offer from an unnamed party for their remaining shares in Sunderland with the process of confirming their departure expected to be completed within the next month, subject to governing body approvals.