If any Sunderland player does not have the stomach for a Premier League relegation battle they can leave, says manager Dick Advocaat.
Embattled Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat told his players they can leave the Stadium of Light if they want to, while he lashed out at striker Jermain Defoe and former defender Michael Gray.
Advocaat claimed on Friday that "every player is for sale - if the player wants to go, he can go" as speculation continued that the Dutch manager will leave Sunderland if he is not allowed to bring in reinforcements.
Sunderland is reportedly lining up Sam Allardyce to replace Advocaat if the latter leaves, with the club reeling following defeats to Leicester City and Norwich City to begin the 2015-16 Premier League campaign.
Advocaat revealed he is trying to convince Sunderland owner Ellis Short to spend more money on transfers, and would happily let players go who are not keen on a relegation fight so he could reinvest any transfer fees accrued into attracting new talent.
One of those players could be Jermain Defoe after the 32-year-old claimed he is being played out of position as one of the wide forwards in Advocaat's 4-3-3 formation.
"Jermain Defoe will play on the left or the right side - or on the bench," responded Advocaat.
"Nobody can tell me where he has to play. I decide which player plays where, not players."
Meanwhile, Advocaat was similarly scathing in his riposte to Gray, who now works as a radio pundit.
The 41-year-old, who played 363 league matches for Sunderland from 1992-2004, had labelled his ex-club's performance in a 3-1 loss to Norwich as "the lowest of the low".
Advocaat said: "I heard a story about Michael Gray that when Sunderland were relegated, and my ears are always open, 60 or 90 people found out that they were fired, and Mr Gray arrived here with a new Ferrari.
"If I know that 90 people have to go because we are going down, then I would go on my bike I think, not a Ferrari. That says enough about the mentality of that man. He is not a friend again now."
Sunderland host Swansea City in the Premier League on Saturday.