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Transfer Window: Where do Sunderland NEED to strengthen and sign new players in January?

It’s never too early to think about January. Where in our squad do people think that Sunderland need to strengthen when the transfer window re-opens in the new year?

Sunderland v Tranmere Rovers - Sky Bet Leauge One Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Q: It’s never too early to think about January. Where do people think Sunderland need to strengthen when the transfer window re-opens?

Damian Brown says...

In spite of the obvious talent we have on display in most areas of the pitch, there’s always room for improvement. Couple that fact with the knowledge that we need to get out of this division as soon as possible and it’s clear we’d be suicidal to ignore the chance to bolster the squad - that said, it’s challenging to pinpoint the areas that could be most improved because we’re in a state of flux.

A few weeks ago, for example, I might have recommended more competition at left back considering Laurens De Bock’s stuttering start and Denver Hume’s relatively slow-burning progression under the tutelage of Jack Ross. Following the dominant performance against Tranmere you’d have to be blind to have missed Hume’s influence in the game.

I think there’s a lot of cards face down on the table right now and we might see some of them turn up for Phil Parkinson. With that in mind, I can think of positions that might need extra competition rather than outright makeovers - but it can’t be forgotten though that Parkinson has his own plan.

While you can use another manager’s team in a better fashion than your successor, it won’t be your team until you’ve made your mark. I don’t doubt the new gaffer has players that he’s either worked with or admired from afar, and now, under one of the more attractive banners in the division, he may have the opportunity to tweak what we have with a few choice additions.

This comes with an added bonus in that Parkinson knows this league in a way that his predecessor didn’t. He’s familiar with the ebb and flow of this league, and what it takes to influence that. He knows what kind of players thrive at this level.

In Parkinson it could be argued that we haven’t simply hired a manager - in many ways we’ve hired an experienced League One talent scout.

Though he won’t be the man that hashes out the intricacies of a contract - such things being left to the recruitment team - we can go forward with some confidence that whoever he lays his crosshairs on in the coming window, he’ll be a man qualified to make the decision as to whether or not that potential transfer can make the impact that sees us safely to promotion.

Burnley v Sunderland - Carabao Cup - Second Round - Turf Moor
Denver’s recent performances have given relief to supporters who were worried we weren’t equipped enough at left back
Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

Phil West says...

For me the focus in January’s transfer window should be focused on midfield and attack. I do believe that defensively, when we have all of our players fit, we can keep it tight at the back. Phil Parkinson is a wily manager and I’m sure he’ll be working hard to whip our defence into better shape, and hopefully the likes of Conor McLaughlin will benefit from what a new manager can bring.

After the Wycombe game I said that we needed a hard-man in the mould of Kevin Ball to rampage around the middle of the park, protect our players, and put in some thunderous tackles himself. I stand by that, despite the excellent result against a lightweight Tranmere team. George Dobson is a reasonably physical player, with some good skills on the ball, but I don’t see him as an enforcer. If we can add a little bit more muscle in midfield, we will hopefully be able to establish a nice balance between skill and steel.

Going forward I would love us to sign a pacy winger, someone who can beat a man and deliver some quality balls into the box. On Tuesday night, you could see the beginnings of what will hopefully be a team that plays at a quicker tempo. If we could add a player of that ilk, someone who provides excitement and a little bit of unpredictability, it will give us more options. Speed of thought and speed of foot are a great combination at this level.

Also in attack I think we still lack an out and out goal poacher. When on form, Grigg is industrious and so is McNulty, but I don’t think you could class either of them as truly deadly (perhaps that will change with the ‘Parkinson Effect’). With Chris Maguire being suited to a number-ten role I believe we need to beef up our goalscoring options. At the moment, when a game is tight, I don’t have 100% confidence that we can nab a goal from a half-chance, and that is an issue that needs solving. I would be fine with Charlie Wyke leaving, either permanently or on loan, if it was able to free up a space for the kind of striker who fits the bill - with no disrespect to Wyke.

I would also caveat my transfer wishlist by saying that I don’t think our January recruitment should be done at the expense of young prospects like Kimpioka and Embleton being squeezed out of the picture. Striking a balance will be absolutely vital.

Sheffield United v Sunderland AFC - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Mark Carrick says...

Phil Parkinson has reiterated his intention to tighten a leaky defence and create more chances to make our forwards effective in what they do best - scoring goals.

He has already achieved what Jack Ross prioritised but could never deliver: a clean sheet. Now, Parkinson has to make that into a habit, rather than a hope.

The defence, therefore, would be my priority.

Tom Flanagan, Jack Baldwin and Alim Ozturk have all proven to be limited, even at this level. The signings of Jordan Willis and Joel Lynch have seen an improvement but additional resources are required. Lynch, for example, is only with us til May, as is Laurens De Bock under the terms of his loan agreement. At least one centre half needs to be added to our ranks with the possibility of another in the summer. With Flanagan, Baldwin and Ozturk out of contract in 2020 this would be remain a priority for the next few months.

A pacey winger/forward would be my second priority. Duncan Watmore’s performance against Tranmere highlighted an area of weakness many fans have identified for a while. Someone with the pace to turn a defence and the experience to find space to bear down on the opposition goal is a must. Can Duncan stay fit until May? Even if he could, it’s advisable to have at least two players in the squad to perform this vital role.

My third position would be a solid defensive midfielder, similar in physique to Lynch. A player who can out muscle opposition players, who can read the game well and drop into support our centre halves would be an advantage right now and certainly aid in the quest for promotion.

Sheffield United v Sunderland - Carabao Cup - Third Round - Bramall Lane Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images

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