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Cheap as Cheesy Chips: The top FIVE Sunderland players who cost us less than a million quid

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Say goodbye to injury ravaged Manchester City reserves and scream au revoir to big money flops from France, because in League One we’re going to have to bring in talent at a much more reasonable cost - but we’ve done that before, haven’t we? Let’s remind ourselves of Sunderland’s most successful bargain hunts!

Kevin Phillips

5. Jan Kirchhoff - £750k

Has Wearside ever seen a more classy, composed midfielder? Probably not. It’s a crying shame that the 6’5 defensive midfielder is made from Wotsits because he, without doubt, is one the best players to have ever pulled on the jersey.

We were warned about his injury troubles, but in his six months under the wing of Sam Allardyce the German looked head and shoulders above anything we’d seen at the Stadium of Light in quite some time.

Although he could only originally compete for sixty minutes at a time - his fitness had to be carefully managed - he began to approach near full fitness come our glorious end to 2016 and was widely seen as our key man heading into what was meant to be Sam Allardyce’s first full season at the Stadium of Light.

Sadly, England lost to Iceland, David Moyes took the Sunderland job and Jan turned back into a humanoid Rizla paper. He’s currently a free agent after his release from Bolton.

Sunderland v Everton - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

4. Allan Johnston - £500k

With a nickname like ‘Magic’, you’d have expected more fanfare when the Scottish winger moved to the club from French club Rennes, but amidst a relegation battle and derby day at St. James his move to the club went almost unnoticed.

Despite scoring the last goal at Roker Park, the Glaswegian didn’t really come to prominence until midway through his debut season at the club, as his move from the right wing to the left allowed him to form an immense partnership with England international Mickey Gray.

Despite only being at the club for two full seasons, he managed to score 19 league goals from the left wing and win a place in the 1998 Football League team of the year, all while racking up a fine collection of assists for Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips.

Although he left under a cloud, Johnston was one of the most exciting talents ever to grace the turf on Wearside.

Alan Johnston of Sunderland chases a ball as he gets tackled by Charlton Athletic's Shaun Newton

3. Gavin McCann - £500k

Another who took a few months to get going, the Blackpool born box-to-box midfielder went from Division One football to an England international in the blink of an eye, such was his rapid progression under the tutelage of Peter Reid.

Purchased as an exciting young talent in the winter of our 105-point season, McCann quickly ousted the likes of Kevin Ball and Alex Rae in the first team picture and become one of the first names on the team sheet, with his high energy, tough tackling performances that won the Lads points at places like Highbury and Stamford Bridge.

Although he never won more than his one England cap, the no-nonsense midfielder left the club for Aston Villa in 2003 for more than five times the amount he joined and continued playing top flight football till his retirement in 2011.

Gavin McCann

2. Thomas Sorensen - £510k

The Danish goalkeeper joined Peter Reid’s team as a boy back in 1998 but left the club as a fully fledged international, a record breaker and a cult hero.

Brought in as a direct replacement for error prone Frenchman Lionel Perez, Tommy quickly adapted to the English game and broke our club record of record twenty-nine clean sheets as we stormed to the Division One title in his debut season.

He became a regular in our marauding return to the Premier League - and who could forget his derby winning penalty save from old Weetabix heed at St. James?

He went on the play in the 2002 World Cup and had a successful career in the Premier League both at Aston Villa and Stoke, before retiring at the beginning of this year.

Thomas Sorensen of Sunderland Photo by Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

1. Kevin Phillips - £350k

Who else could it be? The living legend is quite possibly the best signing made by the Lads ever. Although his transfer fee eventually rose to £600k, not many on Wearside really cared.

The little striker could score goals with his left, his right, his head, in the box, outside of the box and (probably) even with his eyes closed - he was just that good.

He was another who grew into a full international during his period at the club, and also deservedly went to Euro 2000 with his country following a thirty goal season which saw him win the European golden boot award.

His partnership up top with Niall Quinn was legendary, and will likely never be bettered in many of our lifetimes. They were simply irreplaceable.

He managed to torment our local neighbours with countless derby goals, leading the scoring charts in each of his six seasons on Wearside, bagging him a total of 130 goals in all competitions.

When it came to Kevin Phillips, everything he touched in a red and white shirt turned to gold. Our greatest striker of all time - bar none.

Kevin Phillips scores for Sunderland