There's now no longer any transfer gossip to really talk about, although Sunderland are among the clubs being linked with free agent striker Michael Owen.
It got us thinking about the addition of free agents to the squad, and whether we even have room to add such player to the mix, so we decided to dig out the Premier League rule book and see how the squad stacks up against it.
There's lots going on, and in short Sunderland are well stocked to hit every quota, and come well within the rules. How close do we come though, and how many slots could be freed up if we want them to be? Answers are below in our Sunderland squad breakdown...
Phil Bardsley, Danny Rose, Wes Brown, Lee Cattermole, Seb Larsson, Craig Gardner, Fraizer Campbell, Connor Wickham, Matt Kilgallon, Jordan Pickford, Jack Colback, David Vaughan, John O'Shea, Ji Dong-Won, David Meyler, Titus Bramble, Keiren Westwood, Adam Johnson, Simon Mignolet, James McClean, Carlos Cuellar, Louis Saha, Steven Fletcher, Ahmed Elmohamady, Stephane Sessegnon, Ryan Noble, Blair Adams, John Egan
There's currently 27 players in the Sunderland squad, including Ahmed Elmohamady who has left on loan to join Hull City until January at least. This doesn't pose much a problem to the 25-man squad ruling as we can all think of a few players who don't have to be registered and we can get it down to 25 with ease.
Jordan Pickford, Connor Wickham, Ryan Noble, Blair Adams, John Egan, Ji Dong-Won
This season an Under-21 player has to be aged 21 or under on January the 1st (born after January 1st 1991) in the year the season starts. Obviously we know from the above list that the likes of Jordan Pickford and Connor Wickham are still teens, and wouldn't have to count towards the 25-man squad if we didn't want them to. There's also Ryan Noble, Blair Adams, John Egan and surprisingly Ji Dong-Won, who turns 22-years old in May next year.
Phil Bardsley, Wes Brown, Lee Cattermole, Sebastian Larsson, Craig Gardner, Connor Wickham, Fraizer Campbell, Matt Kilgallon, Steven Fletcher, Jordan Pickford, Jack Colback, David Vaughan, John O'Shea, Titus Bramble, Keiren Westwood, Adam Johnson, Ryan Noble, Blair Adams, John Egan, Danny Rose
This is very straight forward for Sunderland. Both Steve Bruce and Martin O'Neill have tended to buy British where possible, and you can see from the substantial list above that it holds no problems for the 25-man squad rules, as we only need 8 of these at a minimum.
The likes of Seb Larsson count towards the 'homegrown' quota by virtue of having spent 36 months at an English or Welsh FA side prior to his 21st birthday. In this case, Arsenal.
David Meyler, Simon Mignolet, James McClean, Carlos Cuellar, Louis Saha, Ahmed Elmohamady, Stephane Sessegnon
Not that this particularly counts towards anything, but all these players would count as overseas players. You can actually have as many overseas players as you like, so long as they are either under-21 or you still manage to hit the homegrown quota.
It's unlikely that Martin O'Neill will omit anyone from the squad list. Recall last year when the likes of Marcos Angeleri was included simply to take up space.
We're extremely well placed to hit the homegrown quota, as well as having wiggle room for any free agents if we deemed necessary.
As things stand, there are only 21 players which must be registered (22 if you include Elmohamady, more on that below), leaving us room to add up to four free agents if need be. Given the quality out there seems to peak with Michael Owen and John Mensah, it's unlikely we're going to find four of them to pad the squad out.
Ahmed Elmohamady is currently away on loan, however would have to be registered if he was to ever have his position in the squad reinstated. Senior players not registered now who go on loan, cannot re-take a place in the squad until the next transfer window. There is recall clause in Elmohamady's contract. If the likes of John Egan or Ryan Noble were to go on loan for a month, they could still play for us when they returned by virtue of being under 21.
These rules only apply to Premier League games, and not European (not that that matters), League Cup or FA Cup matches.