Early Names Who May Be On Sunderland's January Agenda

January may still be seven weeks away, but we take an early look at some candidates for a Sunderland switch.

According to Gus Poyet, January could once again be a busy time for Sunderland with 'several new players' being targeted. Whether that plays out of not remains to be seen. Much will depend upon, you suspect, how well positioned Sunderland are to effect a survival bid.

Nevertheless, because it's fun, let's have a look at some early possibilities for a switch to Wearside this winter.

Loris Benito

We have to start with a left back, don't we? There was a sense that the signing of Andrea Dossena - an injured deadline day free transfer arrival from Napoli on a one-year deal - was little more than a stop-gap solution to the left-back deficiency that has plagued Sunderland for years. Okay, more than a sense. It was a veritable gimme.

One of the biggest summer targets, however, was FC Zurich left back Loris Benito. No one really knows why a deal fell through for the Swiss under-21 international, but it was pretty close at one point.

With Jack Colback now firmly switched back into midfield - and doing a fine job there, we might add - the hunt must surely once again start in earnest and you wonder whether Benito may just be revisited.

Zurich's own survival bid may stand in the way of that. They are currently second bottom, but are actually closer in terms of points to a Europa League berth than they are a relegation spot, so it is tough to gauge just where their ambitions actually lie.

Either way, Benito will be an interesting name to keep in mind once the transfer window re-opens.

Liam Bridcutt

Similarly, despite a late August arrival, you never really felt that Sunderland managed to do precisely what they wanted to over the summer in terms of the midfield options. Cabral has disappointed and switching to a three-man midfield rather than the two man midfield that squad was ultimately built for has at times stretched the options too.

Bridcutt, therefore, carries with him a big upside. Coming out of the Championship and with a contract slowly ebbing away, he wouldn't cost the earth and at 24-years-old he could represent a lasting investment. A product of the Chelsea academy, he would also swell the numbers in the squad who qualify for the homegrown quota, which could be especially useful if Sunderland plan to go forward with the policy of scouring foreign markets.

Perhaps most importantly, however, is that Bridcutt would require no time to slot into Poyet's tactics, with the Uruguayan once declaring the Scotland international as someone who 'deserves to go to the highest level. You can bet your bottom dollar he'd like him at Sunderland.

Zdravko Kuzmanović

Sticking with the midfield, there looks every chance that Sunderland may once again explore the option of bringing Kuzmanovic to the Stadium of Light.

The 26-year-old Serbian is a strong favourite of Chief Scout Valentino Angeloni, and could well be available on a short term loan deal having failed to feature with any kind of regularity for Inter Milan since Walter Mazzarri took charge at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.

When he has featured, however, he has produced pass success of over 90%, which is sure to endear him to Gus Poyet, and loan deals have always been an attractive January proposition for clubs for whom the future is a little uncertain.

With David Vaughan already heading out of the club on loan and Craig Gardner looking unlikely to fit in to the new possession-based philosophy on Wearside, you wouldn't be at all surprised to see the former Stuttgart man line up in red and white again in the new year.

Lee Chung-yong

The Bolton winger was tentatively linked with Sunderland last summer, though there wasn't thought to be an awful lot in it.

However, there may be an even stronger case now to look at Lee. Principally, of course, because he is a good player, and the Sunderland squad is rather light on senior options in the wide positions. You would also have to accept that there are certain commercial advantages to adding another high-profile Korean to the ranks.

Sunderland have existing partnerships in that area of the globe, and it is looking increasingly likely that Ji Dong-won will be making his exit sooner rather than later. Ki Sung-yueng, meanwhile, is perhaps the jewel in the Korean crown in terms of name-appeal, but he is only on loan.

Though, the existing relationship between Ki and Lee is a good reason in itself to consider reuniting them. The pair forged an almost telepathic on-pitch relationship in their early careers at FC Seoul, and if there is a genuine desire to make Ki's switch a permanent one then the prospect of playing with Lee at club level again would certainly be a big draw.

Whether or not Bolton would be at all receptive to allowing Lee to leave is the big question. Dougie Freedman insisted it wasn't going to happen back in August. With Wanderers' play off hopes looking quite distant right now, though, they may choose to cash in before he enters the final year of his contract.

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