It has been a really tough week and we are all really disappointed for all of the lads who did not get a contract as they have shown real improvement in certain areas over the last 12 months.
I personally understand the pain and disappointment of the decisions made as it happened to me when I was at Sunderland many, many years ago. I’m now trying to get across to the players that this is not the end of their football careers, that they must never give in and other opportunities will arise if they continue to show a good attitude and are good enough, as those opportunities arose for me back then.
The decisions were not taken lightly. There were three main meetings between the senior and youth staff over the course of several weeks before definite decisions were made and certain factors had to be taken into account. Such as, were the lads ready for the first team squad next season, what was ahead of them and what was just behind them playing wise. If we had a reserve team then maybe, and I say maybe, a couple of decisions may have been different but we currently don’t have that structure in place so we have to be honest, calculated and realistic in our decision making.
We are now working hard on exit strategies for all of the players who did not get a professional contract. They are all really good lads who have been a pleasure to work with, over several years in some cases. We will do all we can to help them going forward and I would personally like to thank them all for their hard work and dedication since they have been at the club.
It’s really important that they complete their apprenticeship in the right manner now. The upcoming games we have could be key as we have already circulated to other clubs that the majority of them will be playing between now and the end of the season. In football, you never know who is watching and you have the opportunity to impress other coaches from other clubs. With their fine attitudes, I’m sure this will be the case and we look forward to ending the season on a positive note.