BAILEY WRIGHT is set to re-sign for Sunderland despite having been the subject of interest from at least two clubs in his native Australia.
Wright, who is set to become a free agent in the next few days, was offered a new contract in the immediate aftermath of the Black Cats’ play-off final success at Wembley last month.
While the other two players to be offered deals at the same time – Lynden Gooch and Patrick Roberts – have put pen to paper on their new contracts, Wright is yet to commit his long-term future to the Stadium of Light.
However, while there has been fresh talk of a possible return to Australia ahead of this winter’s World Cup, Wright is set to extend his stay at the Stadium of Light.
The 29-year-old, who is currently on holiday after helping Australia is eligible for Qatar by beating Peru in a nail-biting play-off earlier this month, was heavily linked with a return to his homeland last summer when he was struggling to claim a first-team spot under Lee Johnson.
He remained on Wearside for the final year of his contract, and while he was in and out of the side under Johnson in the first half of last season, he was a regular starter under Alex Neil in the second half of the campaign.
His reliability at the heart of the back four persuaded Neil to offer him a new deal, but there has been renewed interest from within Australia’s A-League, with Wright’s international status making him an especially appealing proposition to clubs in his homeland.
The defender has always said that, at some stage, he would like to return to play in Australia, but with Sunderland gearing up for a return to the Championship, the time is not right for a move Down Under.
Instead, Wright will return to Wearside in the next couple of weeks to sign a new deal and be reunited with his Black Cats team-mates as they step up their preparations for the start of the new season.
His return will be especially welcome given the lack of alternative central-defensive options within the current squad.
With Callum Doyle having returned to Manchester City at the end of his loan and Arbenit Xhemajli having been released, Danny Batth is currently the only senior center-half on Sunderland’s books.
Clearly, that will have to change before the transfer window closes, and the Black Cats remain hopeful of being able to seal a deal for Arsenal’s Dan Ballard, who is set to leave the Emirates on a season-long loan.
Ballard, who spent last season on loan at Millwall, is expected to make a decision on his future in the next few days, with Sunderland having tabled a formal offer with Arsenal officials.
The 22-year-old had been linked with a possible return to Millwall, although that now looks unlikely with the Lions close to signing Charlie Cresswell on a season-long loan from Leeds United.
Blackpool have offered Ballard a move to Bloomfield Road, and there are also understood to be a couple of clubs on the continent that have spoken to Arsenal’s management team.
However, Sunderland’s recruitment team feel they have tabled an attractive offer, with last season’s success with the likes of Doyle, Jack Clarke and Nathan Broadhead proving they can offer an effective development opportunity for young talent.
Talks over a possible return for both Clarke, who is employed by Tottenham, and Broadhead, whose parent club is Everton, remain ongoing.