Simon Grayson offered no update on Sunderland's transfer situation in this afternoon's press conference, either on incomings or outgoings.
With less than three weeks left until the summer 2017 window closes, Sunderland’s progress in rebuilding a lean Championship team still hinges as much on shifting players out as it does on bringing new faces in.
After an initial flurry of low-cost and loan arrivals, we can likely expect a period of quiet at the Stadium of Light as Simon Grayson makes use of what he has before embarking on the final moulding of his squad.
The futures of Khazri and Kone continue to be amongst the core themes of the summer but there will likely be a twist or two yet and a couple of unexpected faces in the departure lounge before the window enacts it’s end-of-August slam shut.
To the relief of most - and surprise of some - on Wearside, Grayson’s emerging Sunderland squad doesn’t look to be in too bad a shape. The continued gaps are significant but the Black Cats boss has been able to bring in some decent players.
In fact, the exits of Pickford and Defoe aside, an argument would hold that the likes of Browning, Grabban and McGeady have improved the squad on that which completed a dismal Premier League campaign last term. Would anyone swap any of that trio for Denayer, Borini or Lens?
James Vaughan and Jason Steele have been brought in on budget as additions to fill key positions whilst Sunderland’s wage bill continues to deflate nicely.
Whilst a select group of Championship rivals continue to attract the headlines over their perceived spending, Sunderland are not operating in the same markets right now and are stuck unable to pay fees for intended targets.
Yet whereas Middlesbrough continue to attract the ‘big spenders of the division’ tag, the actual net outlay of £3m at the Riverside to date perhaps offers some perspective.
Garry Monk has lashed out cash on Assombalonga, Braithwaite and Fletcher but his spending will be neatly offset by the incoming big money sales of Marten de Roon, Jordan Rhodes and Gaston Ramirez. Other trickles from Fisher, Stuani and Husband have raked in a further decent chunk on Teesside.
Whilst Sunderland boss, Simon Grayson, has moved quickly to establish himself a coherent line-up capable of navigating a tricky run of opening fixtures, his next moves in the market are now crucial.
Last night’s game against Bury highlighted the growing need for a central striker as James Vaughan has yet to display the potency he possessed in League One and Lewis Grabban looked a way off honing himself as a focal point to channel advances through.
And whilst the Black Cats midfield continues to prove itself capable of retaining possession, the absence of drive in the middle, save for a clearly fired up George Honeyman, remains a concern. Sunderland were predictable last night and can not rely on Aiden McGeady alone to challenge in the attacking third.
Wahbi Khazri already looks like he’s lost whatever interest he might have had in staying on Wearside; and whilst we may satisfy ourselves that an apparent lack of transfer links surrounding the Tunisian is a sign he will stay, his relatively low key agent is not the sort to be flaunting him around Europe. Someone, in Spain, Turkey or France, will have an eye on him though.
As for Lamine Kone, his flurry of ‘liking’ West Ham posts on Instagram the other night was an odd activity for a Sunderland defender but knowing the identity and odd tricks pulled by his representatives - as demonstrated by the Ivorian’s antics last summer - that may well have merely another subtle stunt.
In terms of incomings, talk of Ross McCormack remains quiet whilst Simon Grayson hinted at interest in ‘Boro midfielder Grant Leadbitter after Thursday’s cup game.
It certainly seems likely Sunderland are keen on bringing their old boy back to the Stadium of Light but it may yet be a waiting game as the transfer window heats up and squads continue to take shape.