Ethan Ross’ Aberdeen contract was not allowed ‘to run out’ according to director of football Steven Gunn, amid interest from English League One club Sunderland.

Ross is currently a free agent after turning down a contract extension in the cinch Premiership. He has been strongly linked with Sunderland after his form on loan at Championship club Raith Rovers last season, and while they wanted to keep him, Gunn says the Aberdeen academy product departs after efforts were made to retain him.

Sunderland want Aberdeen talent Ross.

Sunderland want Ross after his Aberdeen exit. (Photo by Craig Foy/SNS Group via Getty Images)

He said (Red TV): “I wouldn’t say it’s (Ross’ contract) been allowed to run out. When there’s a dialogue with players and their agents there needs to be a willingness from the other side. One thing we’ve set out to do is ensure we’ve got that pathway for young talent getting into the first-team.

“We’ve demonstrated in the short time Stephen has been in post he’s a manager that’s willing to give young players the opportunity, when they earn it. We think that’s an opportunity that might have been there for Ethan and certainly others. But we respect players’ decisions to look elsewhere for their opportunity.

“That braveness of engaging a player early, well before they get into the final year of their contract, it gives us confidence to get those deals over the line, but also gives the player confidence, that we believe in them if we’re willing to give them improved contract when they’ve still got time on their existing contract.

“I think that’s not something we did well enough in the distant past, but something we’re much better at now.”

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