Despite making a host of signings this summer, Steve Bruce isn't about to give up on the Sunderland players that secured the club a top 10 finish last season.
Up to 21 players have come and gone from the Stadium of Light this summer as the club look to bring European football to the north-east.
But Bruce isn't ready to turn his back on players like Jack Colback and Stephane Sessegnon, who would have good reason to fear for their places after a host of arrivals during the transfer window.
"Last season Jack and Stephan were our best players in the last few weeks of the season – they showed tremendous character and quality and I haven’t forgotten that," Bruce stated.
"Sess is one of those players who will always catch the eye and it’s right that people are talking about him. But Jack has also been very effective.
"He was outstanding at the end of last season and he's been great in pre-season too, so how can I drop him now?
"It would be wrong to leave him out of the squad for the sake of a 'bigger' name or a more expensive signing, and I won't do that.
"Jack deserves his place in the squad on merit and it will be on merit that players are selected – not on reputations or transfer fees."
The signing of the likes of Craig Gardner, Connor Wickham and John O'Shea has forced many pundits to tip the Black Cats to have a decent season in Bruce's third full term in charge.
With 11 additions to his squad, Bruce believe he's never had a stronger set of players at his disposal during his Sunderland tenure and that the team can achieve big things.
"I think that what we must not lose sight of is the fact that the squad we had last season was good enough to finish in the top 10 last season," he added.
"That was some achievement and it says something about the quality of the players we have here.
"This season we are stronger, so if we can push for a top half finish again and look to do well in the cup competitions everyone will be happy."
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