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Sunderland squad numbers for 17/18 to be unveiled imminently, expect a surprise & some movement

Sunderland are due to announce this season's squad numbers any day now. Who gets what and should be expect a surprise or two?

So Sunderland conclude a busy week, one which has seen the unveiling of two new signings and a goalless draw with Scunthorpe United. The Championship campaign starts in just over a week’s time and Celtic visit the Stadium of Light tomorrow.

After a desperately slow start to the close season was hampered by a protracted hunt for a manager and failed takeover negotiations, the Black Cats' summer has exploded into life as Simon Grayson now has six new faces in and Sunderland have waved goodbye to numerous players from the Premier League era.

Sunderland v Manchester City - Premier League
Who’s next in at the Stadium of Light?
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

The squad numbers for season 2017-18 are due to be unveiled imminently - possibly today but don't hold us to that - but with a continued fluidity to the faces in the Black Cats ranks, they look set to be more work-in-progress than finished article.

Announcing the squad numbers is usually billed as one of the landmarks of the close season but in truth there are but a few cherished ones in these days of big extended teams and digits now assigned to individuals for an entire campaign.

So who gets what and which notable numbers are up for grabs?

Vito Mannone held the No 1 shirt last year as Sunderland’s first choice goalkeeper when the Premier League season began. An injury in the third league game of the campaign ruled the Italian out of action for the next nine fixtures and afforded Jordan Pickford the first team chance that he would swiftly take with both hands.

West Bromwich Albion v Sunderland - Premier League
Number 1 was Vito Mannone last season, who gets it this year?
Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Neither goalie remain at the club now, of course. Mannone has just been handed the No 1 jersey at Reading and Pickford will battle Maarten Stekelenburg and Joel Robles to be Everton’s first choice after his £30m move in June.

Who will get the number one at Sunderland this season though? New signing Jason Steele, the almost-signed Robbin Ruiter or the untested in English league action Mika Domingues?

At the other end of the pitch, Sunderland’s famous No 9 jersey - if we had such a thing - was held by Fabio Borini last term and top striker Jermain Defoe wore No 18.

Leicester City v Sunderland - Premier League
Jermain Defoe wore No 18 during his time at Sunderland
Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

The former has now picked up the No 11 shirt at AC Milan and the latter has worn 18 for the bulk of his career with the number adorning his back during spells at Tottenham and Toronto before he moved to Wearside in 2015.

Defoe scored 18 goals during his first spell at Bournemouth as a 20-year-old on loan from West Ham and the number would eventually stick with him. The striker now aged 35 will wear the number eighteen for the Cherries this term having worn it for 16 of his last 18 seasons and coincidentally, the England international also scored 18 times to keep Sunderland in the Premier League in 2015/16.

Present Spurs striker Harry Kane said he opted for the same number after Defoe instructed him it was a “goalscoring shirt” when he inherited the striking crown from the former Tottenham favourite.

Portsmouth v AFC Bournemouth - Pre Season Friendly
Defoe has already bagged No 18 at Bournemouth
Photo by Harry Hubbard/Getty Images

Neither Borini nor Defoe now remain at Sunderland so summer signings James Vaughan and Lewis Grabban may have the pick of No 9. But more importantly who will inherit the now far more significant No 18?

You can probably bet your bottom dollar that Sunderland stalwart Lee Cattermole will wear No 6 this season. Catts has now held the half-dozen shirt in seven of his eight seasons at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland v Swansea City - Premier League
Sunderland’s No 6 - Lee Cattermole
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Billy Jones looks set to continue in No 2, the traditional right-back jersey, but next to him the No 4 berth is up for grabs. It was allocated to Younes Kaboul last season then after his departure in August, picked up by loanee Jason Denayer.

Bryan Oviedo claimed the No 3 shirt when he signed for Sunderland following the departure of Patrick van Aanholt in January and John O’Shea has had No 16 since he moved from Manchester United in 2011.

Another ‘decent’ jersey number up for grabs is No 7 which was worn by Seb Larsson in each of his campaigns on Wearside stretching back to 2011. The Swede will not be returning to the Stadium of Light next season and is so far without a new club.

Arsenal v Sunderland - Premier League
No 7 is up for grabs after belonging to Seb Larsson for several years
Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

Lamine Kone has resided at No 23 since he arrived in January 2016 and it may be a waste of a decent number to hand that available No 4 top to the Ivorian with his departure still widely anticipated before the end of the summer.

As for the rest: Papy Djilobodji was given No 5 following his summer signing last year; Jack Rodwell was awarded No 8 after his £10m arrival in 2014; while No 10 is Wahbi Khazri and most will be hoping the Tunisian wears that for the entirety of the season rather than depart before the transfer window closes.

Finally, Sunderland had no No 11 in the squad last term. It had been worn by Adam Johnson and was earmarked for Adnan Januzaj when the now-ex Manchester United man arrived on Wearside. That was until the unfortunate shared initials with the imprisoned AJ were noted. Will anyone now dare pick it up for the campaign ahead?

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