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Roker Roundtable: Five days to go until the window shuts... What business should Sunderland do?

We asked our panel, what do you think needs adding to do Lee Johnson’s Sunderland squad before the transfer window slams shut next Monday night?

Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Joseph Tulip says...

I’m happy with our business so far, with both Trai Hume and Danny Batth providing much-needed specialist skills in key defensive areas.

Patrick Roberts would appear to be a good addition in terms of creativity going forward, and Jermain Defoe would bring A-list quality up front if that deal was to happen.

While I’d love to see Defoe rejoin our ranks, I don’t see the ex-England man as absolutely essential to our promotion push.

We’re still short on numbers so before the end of January, I’d like to see another striker through the door, as well as another midfielder and central defender.

We’ve been short on numbers for some time and while Batth brings much-needed physicality, we need similar cover if he was to get injured or suspended.

A midfielder of similar commanding stature would also be welcome, but we must also take heart from the key players we already have set to return from the sidelines.

Arsenal v Sunderland - Premier League
It’s decision time for Defoe...
Photo by Kieran Galvin/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Gary Engle says...

I agree that Sunderland need more firepower and creativity. So, the addition of Roberts and our continued links with further exciting wing additions is very welcome.

It looks at this stage as though Hume is on the way out, clearly his injury record has forced Johnson’s hand. Obviously, if we can get another left-back addition through the door as cover that would ease a few concerns.

The potential addition of Defoe could be a masterstroke, but won’t speculate too heavily regarding him at this stage. We do need another striker on board by the end of the window!

My next biggest worry after a striker, is an area we haven’t heard a great deal about - central midfield. We are crying out for a big midfield enforcer, perhaps the final piece of our promotion jigsaw.

Tottenham Hotspur U23 v Blackburn Rovers U23 - Premier League 2
Would Jack Clarke be another exciting addition to the Sunderland men’s squad?
Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Malcolm Dugdale says...

I’d agree with Gary in the main, but for me there is a priority order to our needs.

First priority for me is the central midfield general. If we can appoint someone equivalent to Batth but in a midfield role, I would be over the moon. With our super Scot up front and Danny Batth (and arguably Hoff in nets) the spine of the team would be complete with that one midfield addition.

Evans can be part of that, but his injury record needs cover for sure, and if someone is good enough to challenge Evans and Winchester for the role all the better.

The second priority for me is another striker. Yes, we have young Nathan coming back in March, but if Ross takes a knock needing even a couple of weeks off, and/or if Broadhead regresses in his recovers, which is easily done, our attacking stats will drop hugely. Stewart’s work rate is incredible on and off the ball, so another striker coming in is a must in case that is needed.

If that striker is a returning legend to cover for six months, that’s fine, as long as he knows he isn’t keeping Stewart or Broadhead on the bench very often. If it is a new face, after the last transfer window I have a lot of faith in the SAFC system to find someone who is a great fit. They deserve our trust after the last batch, for sure.

The final priority for me is another full-back, ideally, one who can play either side. Cirkin needs some cover especially if Hume is to leave, and there will be times when playing a back three with wing-backs isn’t ideal. One more full-back would be great, especially as Huggins seems to be a way off as yet. Huggins’ longer period till his return creates fewer issues in terms of minutes available to a new addition, unlike our attacking concerns, so let’s give Cirkin some competition too.

If Speakman does those top two priorities this week, I’ll be very happy. If he does all three and is as successful as he was with the last window, we will be in the best shape we have been since we were in the championship. And I include the team who played that season and dropped, as they fell well short of what we may well witness this next few months.

Sutton United v Northampton Town - Sky Bet League Two
Would Koiki by an okay option for fullback?
Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

SAFC Merch says...

I agree with a lot of what has been said already and, from my own point of view, I don’t think we are too far away from where we need to be in terms of squad size and ability. That in itself is a good feeling as often we’ve gone into the final days of the window desperate for three of four first-teamers that are expected to hit the ground running, whereas this time it is more about fine-tuning and even an element of forward planning.

It is clear that the recruitment team are being smart in terms of profiling players and bringing in lads with either a point to prove, the ability to maybe train on and move up a level, or in some cases add that bit of nous to help us along in the meantime.

Anybody that we do sign before February will no doubt fit into one of those categories, and the past two windows mean we can be confident that the majority of them will be a success. Players can end up struggling at a club for any number of reasons of course, but so far Lee Johnson and co. have done very well in terms of new arrivals and have had considerably more hits than misses.

Carl Winchester and Ross Stewart were brought in this time last year and are now two of our most consistent performers, whereas most of the summer arrivals have enjoyed good starts to their Sunderland careers.

Defeats and rough patches this season have not been down to the recruitment I feel, but in the main, because the squad is still learning and has been hit by I don’t know how many injuries. The nature of transfer windows and how they are covered mean that fans, many of whom at SAFC have grown used to a constant churn of players, can feel short-changed if the club is not constantly ‘swooping’ but we have to try and keep in mind that working with the lads we already have is just as important. This is why I’m not in any real panic to sign a raft of players and would only consider another striker as being a priority.

Danny Batth’s arrival has ticked off a lot of boxes and has eased some of the worries I had going into January, and as we already have a lot of adaptable lads that can fill in across some areas of the pitch my only real remaining fear is if Stewart gets injured. He is integral to how we play and is probably the only one we don't have similar cover for, so a backup option is needed.

That will be hard to find as not many will fancy the idea of playing second fiddle but it could prove vital all the same; it is encouraging to see that Nathan Broadhead might not be a million miles away and much as I’d love to see Jermain Defoe return he is a different type of forward, so somebody else in the Stewart mould to give us a range of options would be ideal.

Anything over and above that is possibly just me being greedy. I’d like us to find room for a big unit of a central midfielder with a good engine for certain games and I do wonder perhaps if Johnson wouldn’t mind some extra depth in the goalkeeping and full-back departments, but these may all be for the summer.

You never know what will happen as the clock ticks down and deals elsewhere create a domino effect, but it seems we have been putting in some mid to long-term plans and getting dragged into the madness of the January transfer market too much doesn’t do those any good.

Harrogate v Sunderland - Pre-Season Friendly
Last season’s January signings didn’t really shine until the start of this season.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

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