BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Sunderland manager Jack Ross reckons the League One leaders are under no pressure to sell Josh Maja, who has been linked with Crystal Palace.
The young striker has rejected a new contract with the Black Cats.
And the Eagles have been mooted as suitors for Lewisham-born Maja, 20.
But Ross, speaking after today’s 1-1 draw at Charlton, said: “I’ve been consistent in my communication publicly about my relationship with Josh, how I would view him from a football perspective – regardless of whether he signs a new contract or not.
“I selected him, he played well and contributed to us getting a point from the game. We’ll continue to do that until the situation changes.
“I suppose you have to temper it with the fact at the moment he has chosen to turn down a new contract – he hasn’t asked to leave the club. So that is two very different things – people should take that on board, it sometimes gets forgotten about. He has not for one second come to me and said ‘I don’t want to be here’.
“What he has done is not chosen to take the option to extend his contract, as things stand.
“I was pleased with the reception he got from the fans because his performance deserved that. What he has done for us up to this date means he deserves that.
“Football is a very emotive industry and I get that, it’s what makes it so interesting for people. But sometimes you have to detach yourself from that and understand it is peoples’ lives and careers – their choices.
“In terms of what happens next, I’ll just continue as is. There is no duress on us at the moment to get rid of him – either from the owner or my perspective. I hope that will continue to be the case, because he is an asset to me on the pitch. Being incredibly selfish, I would just like him to be here until the end of the season so I can utilise him as a player and as a goalscorer. I might not get that option.
“We’ve got a number of days left in January, we’ll have to see what transpires.”