MIKE Dodds has warned Premier League clubs who are interested in Sunderland's stars that they'll have to pay mega money to tempt the Black Cats into doing business this summer.

A number of Sunderland players have been linked with top flight clubs over the course of the last 12 months, with Jack Clarke, Dan Neil, Dan Ballard and Anthony Patterson among those with Premier League admirers.

Bids for Clarke are almost certain to land at Sunderland's door this summer and the Black Cats may well have to fend off interest for some of their other top young talent. But Dodds has warned any clubs that are lining up offers for Sunderland's stars that there's no chance they'll get them on the cheap.

"It's got to be right for the football club and all those players are under contract, I don't know the exact ins and outs because my focus is on the grass, but they have lengthy contracts and so the club are in a strong position," said the interim head coach ahead of the summer transfer window.

"So it's really clear that if anyone wants to come and take a Sunderland player then they're going to have to pay the premium because whoever it is, you're talking about a young player who has already done well but still has the potential to develop further.

"You're also talking about a player with time on their contract so when you put those three things together, it's clear that you would have to pay a premium."

Clarke will undoubtedly be the most in-demand Sunderland player in the summer, with several clubs in the top flight and overseas having monitored the winger this term. Lazio failed with two January bids and more offers are likely to be tabled this summer.

Ian Harte, the player's agent, recently told the Northern Echo he has "no idea" how the summer window will play out but said Sunderland's reluctance to budge from their current wage structure means it's unlikely the former Leeds and Tottenham man will sign a new deal at the Stadium of Light. His current deal runs until 2026.

Patterson and Neil have both impressed top flight clubs, Everton have been linked with Dan Ballard and Lazio are said to be keen on Jobe Bellingham.

Despite speculation over the course of the last year, Dodds says there are no wantaway players in the Sunderland dressing room. And he insists club chiefs will stand firm in their valuation of players.


Once Sunderland confirm the appointment of a new head coach in the summer, focus will turn to strengthening the squad, with the Black Cats keen to bolster several areas, up-front being the obvious priority.

Dodds said: "Obviously in terms of the summer, we're going to have to look at the squad because there are areas we need to be better with when you compare this season to last, you can't hide away from that fact.

"It's been a second season in the division and there's a lot that has happened in terms of turnover of players and head coaches, so we will need to take stock and see where we can be better.

"Listen, I know that dressing room better than most and have a really good relationship with them, and there is nothing to suggest to me that there are players in there who want away.

"This [speculation] is a by-product of playing young players and improving them, the club have shown up until this point that they won't let players go unless they feel it's right. They demonstrated that last summer and I'm sure that it will be the same again this time around."