David Moyes is disappointed some of the 11 senior Sunderland players who have declared themselves unfit for Sunday’s trip to Chelsea were not prepared to put themselves through the pain barrier at Stamford Bridge.
“I would have hoped that, knowing we’re in a difficult situation, some would have pulled through, rolled their sleeves up and shown that they’re committed to trying to find a way of playing,” said the relegated club’s manager. “It looks like some haven’t – they are all ruled out.”
Duncan Watmore and Paddy McNair are recovering from ruptured cruciate ligaments and Lamine Koné, Jason Denayer, Papy Djilobodji, Jan Kirchhoff, George Honeyman, Wahbi Khazri, Steven Pienaar, Didier Ndong and Victor Anichebe are also unavailable for the trip to face the champions.
“We’ve got an incredible number of injuries going into this last game,” said Moyes. “I’m disappointed by that but it’s very difficult to question people if they’re saying they are injured. But what you find out is what their character is like, what people are really like. Sometimes you can’t find that out in a week or a month, sometimes it takes a full season.”
One player scheduled to start at Chelsea is Jordan Pickford. The goalkeeper is much admired but Moyes has cautioned the 23-year-old’s suitors, including Everton, that Pickford will be sold only for a sum in the region of £30m.
“It would need to be a really, really big offer,” said Moyes, who replied yes when asked if that constituted around £30m. “I have said all through the season that sometimes you may have to sell to improve. But I’ve seen some really derisory sort of figures getting mentioned, and it wouldn’t be any of those figures, I can tell you that.”
Moyes’s still uncertain future as Sunderland’s manager should be resolved next week when he has a final round of talks with Ellis Short. Those discussions will determine whether the club’s owner agrees to invest the money necessary to implement the Scot’s blueprint for overhauling the squad and challenging for immediate promotion. “We’ll talk about it over the next few days,” said Moyes, who seems undeterred by the increasing hostility of Sunderland supporters towards him.
Asked if he could envisage a day when the fans stopped booing him and began singing his name, he replied affirmatively. “I do,” he said. “You can go to many places where it’s changed. Winning football matches makes a big, big, difference.”
One of the reasons why Sunderland have lost so many this season is the disappointing form of the Manchester United loanee winger Adnan Januzaj, who has struggled on Wearside. Moyes, though, has backed Januzaj to earn a new contract at Old Trafford.
“Adnan’s our best technical player – he’ll have a big future,” he said. “I just think he’s found it quite difficult here. We were looking for a bit more from Adnan but he’s a really good talent. It wouldn’t surprise me if Manchester United took him back and gave him a new contract.”