MIKE Dodds has admitted he'll have next season and beyond in mind with his team selection in the final three weeks of the campaign.

Sunderland's interim head coach reiterated that he won't be "experimenting" with his side against Millwall, Watford and Sheffield Wednesday, but he conceded he will have "one eye" on the future - suggesting players who are unlikely to be at the Stadium of Light next season might not be used in the coming weeks.

The priority for Dodds, however, is picking a team that he thinks gives the Black Cats the best chance of winning the game, for the caretaker boss is desperate to build on the three-game unbeaten run and last week's win at West Brom.


Dodds said: "This is a massive football club and what I'm not going to do is use these games to experiment, but at the same time we have to build to get us back to where we want to be.

"They're not going to be throwaway games but there is one eye on the next 12 to 18 months. It is a balance.

"As the head coach I want to win every game so that's the priority. From there it's whether we need to change the shape or give Player X an opportunity.

"Any decision is not a five minute decision, it's hours and hours of watching the opposition, watching our games and things we've done well and haven't done well. Those decisions are made over a long period of time."

One player who will definitely feature in the final three games of the season is Aji Alese. The defender has made three appearances from the bench since returning from injury, and while Dodds is reluctant to push for too much, too soon, Alese is is contention to start a game before the campaign is out.

Dodds said: "I think we have to take our time with all of them. Patrick Roberts is another one, Corry Evans has been training with the group for three or four weeks. It would be easy to throw them in.

"Aji week on week has looked stronger and there probably has been a temptation to play him. For whatever reason I decided against it. Whether it's this weekend or the following weekend I'm pretty sure we'll see Aji in a team."