The Sunderland manager Roy Keane will not allow sentiment to cloud his judgment as he builds for the future.
The Irishman yesterday placed the former Celtic and Manchester United midfielder Liam Miller, 27, on the transfer list as Keane prepared for another summer recruitment drive.
Miller was one of six men drafted in by the Irishman within days of his appointment in August 2006 and has now joined four other members of that group in being told he is surplus to requirements. Only 36-year-old Dwight Yorke remains part of Keane's plans, and his contract runs out at the end of the season.
Ross Wallace, David Connolly, Graham Kavanagh and Stanislav Varga, who arrived at the Stadium of Light along with Miller and Yorke on transfer deadline day in 2006-07, have all been told they can look for new clubs, along with later arrivals Greg Halford and Ian Harte.
Full-back Stephen Wright is also available, while Andy Cole will see out the remainder of his contract on loan at Burnley. Kavanagh, Halford and Varga are also out on temporary deals at Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton Athletic and Burnley, although Miller could only join a Football League club on an emergency loan deal before securing a permanent move at the end of the season.
He has made 21 senior appearances this season, 14 of them in the starting line-up, and scored one goal, a late equaliser in the 2-2 draw at Middlesbrough. The Republic of Ireland international is recovering from a calf injury and had been lined up for a possible return in the reserves last night.
Keane has invested around £44m on his squad to date, with Phil Bardsley, Andy Reid and Rade Prica his latest acquisitions.
Last weekend's 1-0 defeat at Portsmouth left them 15th in the table, four points ahead of Reading in 18th, but still perched precariously. However, Keane said: "If you want to be a top footballer, you have got to have drive and passion. That has no doubt helped us in a lot of games when sometimes our quality has let us down.
"But there is no questioning the desire and determination of our players, and that is what we will need between now and the end of the season because, trust me, there will be some ups and downs."Reuse content