Mick McCarthy confirmed today that he will not use some of the club’s star players to open Sunderland’s first division account – at least not initially.
Although Gavin McCann, Thomas Sorensen and Jody Craddock have signed new contracts with other clubs, Kevin Phillips, Mickey Gray, Emerson Thome, Phil Babb and Julio Arca are still on the wages bill, with no firm offers having been made to take them elsewhere – and the gaffer has confirmed that he has no plans to use them competitively.
Today’s Journal reports that over the summer, McCarthy split his squad into two distinct parts – those who he believed were surplus to requirements and would leave during the transfer window – who represented the club in the reserves during the break, and those who he believed good enough to take the club through the coming League campaign.
McCarthy said of his reserve team big names, “Those players won’t be involved. They have been out of the picture in terms of playing pre-season games. Some of the higher-profile players who looked like they might leave are still here but it is only fair to the lads who I expect to stay to involve them.
“People might say that we have one or two better players who we should use. But what if they came in and told me that they were off before the game?
“If and when the deadline has gone they are still here, then we will use them. If I was to pick them, the first time Kevin Phillips missed a chance or Michael Gray missed a tackle, people would say that they shouldn’t play because they are leaving and they are not bothered. People could say, if they want to leave, why pick them? I could chase my tail all day long but I have made the decision now.
“For everybody’s benefit – mine, theirs and the club’s – the lads I know will be staying will play at Forest.”
Two players who are expected to be involved in today’s match at the City Ground, however, are Claudio Reyna and Tore Andre Flo, the latter having impressed club management in recent reserve matches.