Tottenham Hotspur are set to revive their interest in the Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones in the summer, though their prospects of signing the Trinidad & Tobago forward may depend upon whether the Wearsiders are able to retain their Premier League status this weekend.
Jones, who scored his 11th goal of the season at Portsmouth, was the subject of interest from Spurs in the mid-winter window but signed a four-and-a-half-year contract at the end of January.
However, he was non-committal when asked if he would honour that deal should the Wearsiders go down. "If we stay up, of course I'll stay," he said. "I've committed myself to the club. If we stay up, I am definitely going to be here. But, if we go down, I can't say what's going to happen tomorrow.
"Obviously things do happen in those situations. Tottenham have been linked with me quite strongly. I can only focus on the job I have now, trying my best and playing well to keep the club up. I just have to work hard and do the best I can for Sunderland."
Upheaval is expected in the summer, regardless of which division the club end up in, with Sbragia – who replaced Roy Keane as manager in December on an 18-month deal – expected to return to a coaching role at the Stadium of Light as Short secures a high-profile replacement. The chairman, Niall Quinn, has indicated that the manager's position will be "reviewed" once the season has concluded, with players – most notably the on-loan striker Djibril Cissé – also expected to move on.
Jones remains the side's principal asset, despite admitting that he has struggled for form and fitness throughout his second season at the club. "It's not necessarily been my best season," he conceded. "It's been interrupted by injuries. I've been carrying niggles all season. I only recently started to feel 100% fit again. Hopefully I can at least do a job until the end of the season and look forward to next season. But, first of all, I have to do the job at hand."
That hinges upon defeating Chelsea – a draw might not be enough should the sides below them win – with Sunderland's players conceding the task ahead is daunting. "We cannot look for any excuses," added the midfielder Teemu Tainio. "We have had more than enough chances to win our last two games and get the club safe. We are bitterly disappointed not to get the points we need (at Portsmouth), but the only thing now is to believe that we can beat Chelsea.
"It is not the finish any of us wanted, but this is what we have left to do and we have to face a big challenge. The other teams have tough games also but we do not want to come off the pitch on Sunday asking what the other scores are. We have to get the job done."