Before I start, I think it’s probably important to caveat this with a couple of things - one, I know that when you sign a free agent you need at least a month to get them up to speed fitness-wise, and two, I know that for the betterment of the club we are probably best off bringing players in who are fit and in form, ready to play almost immediately.
Sunderland still have half a season to go so we do have time for players in certain positions where we already have plenty of options - in other, not so much.
That said, there are still good players available on free transfers and I just wonder whether we might be exploring the out-of-contract market alongside our many other avenues - especially as the month draws on and other options become available.
I’ve spent a little bit of time doing research on who is available and looking for a club - is there anyone else available on a free that you think could make a difference? Let us know in the comments section below as we’d love to hear your suggestions!
He’s only 28 years old and has never played lower than Championship level - so where the hell is Andre Wisdom hiding?
He played 40 times for Derby last season as Wayne Rooney’s side managed to escape the drop by the skin of their teeth following turmoil off the pitch affecting what happened on it, and has also played in the Premier League (for Liverpool, Norwich and West Brom) and the Austrian Bundesliga for Red Bull Salzburg.
Capped at all England youth levels up to the 21s, Wisdom is a versatile defender who can play right-back and centre half - he’d slot perfectly into that role Bailey Wright is nailing currently where he goes between playing both positions, and is famed for his pace and strength.
Gareth Southgate made him his captain for England U21s in 2013 - showing that he’s valued as a leader, and you can’t have too many of those in your group.
Why he hasn’t played since the summer I have no idea, but he’s certainly got all the attributes needed in a modern defender, and is still a good age - really, he should be in his prime as a footballer.
Some higher-level experience and pace at the back wouldn’t go amiss as Sunderland head into a tense period of the season, and whilst it might take a little while to get Wisdom up to speed, he’s a player that - when fit - I think plenty of Championship clubs would fancy.
Jordon Ibe has fallen on hard times recently, which perhaps explains his spell out of the game, but at the age of 26, you have to think he still has so much more to offer in the game.
Bournemouth broke their transfer record to bring him to the club in 2016, paying Liverpool £15m for the youngster who started out his footballing journey as a fifteen-year-old at Wycombe Wanderers, and he went on to be a regular for Eddie Howe during his time at the club.
Perhaps it was the fee, perhaps it was his age - whatever the case may be, Ibe wasn’t able to really kick on at Bournemouth in the top flight, despite the mega fee... though as Alex Pritchard has shown this season with Sunderland, that doesn’t make you a bad player and doesn’t mean you’ll be written off as a failure elsewhere.
In 2021 Ibe revealed that he was suffering from depression, and this was why he barely featured last season for Derby County before being released a year early from his deal with the Rams. What he’s been up to during his spell out of the game is unknown, but you have to wonder whether he could eventually fulfill his potential as a player if he was brought into the right footballing environment under the right management.
Is he a Premier League attacker? Probably not. But could he be a top player in the Championship? I believe so. Maybe he just needs a bit of time and a chance at a club like Sunderland where he can get himself into a good place mentally and physically to rediscover his love for the game.
Hal Robson Kanu
One of the big concerns that fans have currently is what the hell we’d do if Ross Stewart dropped down injured. He does such a good job of leading the line that if we had to spend any time without him in the team, we’d inevitably suffer.
In my opinion, we need to sign a striker as a priority, but with it looking likely that Aiden O’Brien will leave the club at some point this month to seek regular first-team football elsewhere, we’d need another body through the door - and that’s where I think Hal Robson-Kanu could make a difference.
He wouldn’t be a long-term signing or even expected to play every week, but he’s shown over his career as a hardworking lone striker that he still has a lot to offer as a footballer - though, it appears he’s doing quite well in his business life off the pitch, which may explain why he hasn’t played football since leaving West Brom in the summer following their relegation from the Premier League.
Whether at the age of 32 he really wants to drop to League One is unknown, but it’s certainly one worth exploring if we do allow O’Brien to leave.