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Sunderland need around 4 players - which positions, and when can we expect new signings?

Which positions will Simon Grayson look to strengthen before the transfer window closes in just over three weeks time?

Sunderland’s squad is taking shape, but where should we strengthen next?

Now that the season has started it’s probably fair to say that Simon Grayson will be happy enough to see out the next few weeks without going overboard on his spending.

It’s no secret that the tail-end of the transfer window is where clubs like ourselves find value in their acquisitions. Players desperate to find new homes in order to gain game-time, coupled with clubs wanting to rush them out of the door, means that it’s sometimes easier to get more bang for your buck once August starts to come to a close.

And whilst the Sunderland manager won’t be entirely happy with what he’s got, he’ll be content enough with having to get by with his current squad until the closing days of the summer window.

Financially we are stretched, which is perhaps why it seems things are taking longer than they should in regards to incomings. That said, there are still four positions that Sunderland need to bring in new players for.

What sort of movement can we expect, and who are the players we’re most likely to sign?

Central Defender

Lamine Kone is surely leaving before the transfer window closes in just over three and a half weeks, and despite the Ivorian featuring pretty consistently ever since Simon Grayson arrived it’s nailed on that we’ll sign another centre half to replace him once he goes - perhaps even before he does so.

Sun sports writer Alan Nixon told Roker Report that Sunderland’s next priority is to find a central defender, stating that we want one ‘badly’.

ICC Singapore - FC Internazionale v Chelsea FC Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images for ICC

Yesterday we reported that the Italian Press are alleging we’re in for former Hull defender Andrea Ranocchia, and whilst he’s undoubtedly a quality player it seems unlikely he’d drop to play in the Championship.

Tommy Elphick of Aston Villa and Bristol City’s Aiden Flint are the two names that have been routinely linked with Sunderland since Grayson arrived, but neither would come cheap and it’s perhaps just best that we wait it out for now.

Pacey Winger

Jeremain Lens has already gone. And, like Lamine Kone, it’s expected that Wahbi Khazri will be off should a reasonable offer come in for him - meaning that we’ll be lacking creativity and pace in wide positions, attributes that are crucial if your team is to function properly and score goals in the Championship.

Duncan Watmore’s return to fitness will hopefully give us further options in wide areas but it’s important that we secure someone more in the mould of Aiden McGeady on the right hand side of the pitch. Clearly, Grayson wants his side to get balls into the box from wide areas, and a wide man with the pace to stretch teams before delivering deadly crosses will be essential.

Sunderland v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Strangely, we haven’t been linked to a whole load of players in this position. The last notable name was Max Gradel, but that’s gone quiet - though I suspect that it’s a case of ‘wait and see’ with him. It’s obvious he has no future with Eddie Howe’s side but he’ll likely be on a hefty sum of money and whilst Bournemouth may be happy enough to let him leave, it suits them more to wait and see if someone that can afford to pay more wages than Sunderland show an interest in the player.

Number 10

Signing a goalscoring forward that can operate just off the front-man is also hugely important, and it’s no surprise to read of our apparent interest in Aston Villa’s nippy poacher Ross McCormack.

Simon Grayson alluded yesterday that the reason McCormack hasn’t been signed yet is down to Villa holding out for another club coming in that can pay a bigger portion of his wages, which is understandable.

Aston Villa v Nottingham Forest - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Another player we’ve been reportedly targeting in that position is Huddersfield’s Joe Lolley, and according to the Daily Mail he’s available on loan. Lolley is well-liked at the John Smith’s Stadium but a series of unfortunate injuries last season has left him down the pecking order, and he’ll more than likely be moving on in the coming weeks.

Target Man

Whilst the Northern Echo have alleged that Sunderland have had two bids turned down for Preston’s Jordan Hugill, Alan Nixon claimed yesterday that ‘no contact’ has been made. So who do we believe?

Brighton & Hove Albion v Preston North End - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Grayson could go in for Hugill later in the window, but he won’t come cheap and it’s unlikely that we’ll stump up the cash North End want for the towering forward. Sunderland’s best hope is that nobody else is keen on him, leading to Preston loosening up on their valuation of the Boro-born striker.

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