Steve Bruce has revealed a number of clubs have made enquiries about Jordan Henderson but remains confident the highly rated midfielder will still be at the Stadium of Light next season.
The 20-year-old has again been linked with a summer move to Manchester United but, although he accepts Henderson will eventually move on, Bruce does not expect that to be for another couple of seasons at least.
He said: "It's fair to say that all of the big managers all around the country have asked to be kept informed if we ever decide to sell Jordan Henderson.
"But I think the kid and his dad see the next couple of seasons as the most vital for Jordan. We see it and he sees it, which is the most important thing for me, that Sunderland is the right club for him at this particular moment.
"There will come a time undoubtedly when he'll want to go and play in the Champions League and want to win Champions League trophies and further his England career. But I think, for the next couple of years at least, this is the place for him to learn his trade. Where is there another 20-year-old who has played for the last 18 months in the Premier League? There aren't many."
Sixth-placed Sunderland welcome Chelsea to the Stadium of Light tonight looking for a repeat of their stunning 3-0 victory at Stamford Bridge in November. Stéphane Sessègnon will make his debut but the former Portsmouth player Sulley Muntari has headed back to Italy to sort out his visa, so will have to wait until Saturday's trip to Stoke City.
Injuries continue to cause problems for Bruce, with Bolo Zenden picking up a knee problem in training and set to join Danny Welbeck, Fraizer Campbell, David Meyler and Michael Turner on the sidelines. However, captain Lee Cattermole could return from a back problem and John Mensah (ankle) is vying for a starting place after sitting on the substitutes' bench for the 2-1 win at Blackpool 10 days ago.