Sunderland boss David Moyes insists he has no qualms about continuing to play unsettled defender Lamine Kone.
The Black Cats rejected a bid from Everton for the 27-year-old centre-back, with Moyes intent on retaining the Ivory Coast star beyond close of the transfer window.
Kone impressed in Sunderland’s hard-fought 1-1 draw at Southampton on Saturday, with Moyes then challenging the defender to move quickly past the off-field drama of the last few weeks.
Asked if he had any reservations about playing Kone at St Mary’s, Moyes said: “No, no. If you’re a player and you’re here, you play.
“You’ve got a four-year contract, you’ve only served six months of it.
“So I can’t see actually that worrying about your contract situation should be in your head when you’re only in the third game of the season.
“He’s played, did what he had to do. And we’ll see what materialises in the week.
“It was an easy decision to play him because we’ve got two centre-halves.
“We’ve got no centre-halves, we’re genuinely struggling. We’ve got very few midfield players at the moment.”
Moyes on transfer hopes
New Sunderland manager Moyes is hoping for a hectic end to the transfer window as he seeks to plug those gaps in defence and midfield, and also add a goalkeeper to offset the three-month elbow injury loss of Vito Mannone.
Moyes boss has already recruited Paddy McNair, Donald Love, Papy Djilobodji and Steven Pienaar, with Adnan Januzaj and Javi Manquillo arriving on loan.
Sunderland have been chasing Sevilla midfielder Vicente Iborra and Rubin Kazan’s Yann M’Vila, and Moyes remains keen to conduct the rest of his business swiftly.
Stand-in goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s error gifted Southampton the late equaliser on Saturday that denied Sunderland three points on the road.
Moyes has stood by the 22-year-old however and hopes to offer him further chances to prove his top-flight worth.
The former Everton boss has though admitted he could yet recruit a more experienced goalkeeper to cover off Mannone’s absence.
“Part of it is what becomes available,” said Moyes.
“We’ve been thrown a thousand keepers. Some would probably see themselves as number one, some of them might see themselves competing with Jordan and some would feel they are genuine number twos.
“So that will all get ironed out somewhere this week because obviously we need a goalkeeper.”