EX-Sunderland boss Simon Grayson has urged Dan Ballard not to rush a move to the Premier League amid speculation of Everton interest.

The Toffees have been linked with Sunderland's former Arsenal defender, who has enjoyed another impressive campaign on Wearside.

But Grayson believes the Northern Ireland international should stay put.

He told Betway: "He's proved he's a good defender, had a good season and gaining international experience with Northern Ireland.

"He had a good upbringing with Arsenal, so has been taught the right way. He must continue to perform at Sunderland and then depending on what offer comes in, the club can review it.

"The more experience at Championship level, the better for a player like him."


Another player who has impressed this season is Jobe Bellingham, who, despite only turning 18 in September, has established himself in the Sunderland first team after his summer move from Birmingham City.

Grayson said: "He looks a real talent. It’s his first season and he has scored goals and got assists and you can see he has fantastic attributes.

"Expectancy is big and now playing week in week out, showing consistency is important. With changes at the club, it’s important that his development continues to grow."

Grayson, who had just 18 games in charge of Sunderland in 2017, says the club's summer decision making is crucial after the sacking of Tony Mowbray "backfired".

"After an excellent season last year, this year has been turbulent for the club," he said.

"Losing Tony Mowbray who was doing a good job was a surprise to many. Moving into next season, the club must identify the head coach they want to take the team forward and also the philosophy they want to follow.

"Sunderland have a talented young squad and it will be a shame to lose their top players if they chop and change coaches. Identifying a way of playing can help them push for a play-off spot. It is one of frustration for them because they got into a very good position under Tony, and I think that is a decision that is going to be tough to work out and understand.

"We talk about hindsight being a big thing, but that just seemed a strange decision at the time. It's backfired on them without a shadow of doubt."