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Roker Roundtable: As the transfer window winds down, where do Sunderland need to strengthen?

With just under a week left in the window, we asked our panel for their thoughts on which areas of Alex Neil’s squad they would like to see us improve, and how confident they are of deals coming off

Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images

Jon Guy says...

I think we all recognise that defensive additions are required, particularly with the injury to Daniel Ballard, as well as cover for the full-backs. This might be in the shape of a quick centre-half who can also play wide.

Midfield is trickier.

A ball-winner is needed to back up Corry Evans, and another playmaker would be nice. Up front, we need another striker.

It’s a case of building squad depth to see us through what is likely to be a bruising season. Last year highlighted the dangers of flogging players too much, because there aren’t the squad players that the manager has faith in.

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Kevin Barker says...

I think we need four players, with a specialist right-back among them.

Lynden Gooch has done okay but until Niall Huggins is back, we have nobody other than Carl Winchester, who is another player being used out of position.

Daniel Ballard’s injury has reinforced the need for a centre half, and maybe it could be a loan deal so that we can get Ballard straight back in the side when fit.

We still could use a quality central midfielder who can dictate the game, but this will be the most difficult target- they don’t grow on trees and won’t be cheap.

Finally, we need another option up top. If either of our forwards get injured, another striker or attack-minded winger would add both depth and competition for places.

I have confidence that we are biding our time to get the right characters through the door and that following the Rotherham game, we will have a strong enough squad to keep the early-season momentum going.

Stoke City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - bet365 Stadium Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says...

I have confidence that we will get what we need, but given past windows, where we were left short in a couple of positions, I’m still a little bit apprehensive.

It would be a major achievement if we could get our full shopping list ticked off, but we need to be both prepared for that not happening, and realistic that not all of the deals may come off. That doesn’t mean the club hasn’t done its very best, though.

I also can’t shake the fact that we were fortunate to come up to this level after the farces of the past, such as Tom Flanagan leaving without a backup, as well as the Jermain Defoe saga.

In terms of areas to strengthen, I agree with the other comments from the team.

We need a goalkeeper to push Anthony Patterson; we need some proper full-back and central defensive cover, we need a clone of Corry Evans in case Jay Matete doesn’t quite cut it, and we also need a third striker.

What I didn’t think we needed was another winger, but it sounds like we are getting an exciting young international prospect anyway. I imagine that will enable loan moves or sales to happen as needed.

Kristjaan Speakman and his recruitment team have room for improvement, but I’m moderately confident that he will build on his previous transfers. Our recent business is not to be sniffed at, because those transactions ultimately helped us to promotion.

Stoke City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - bet365 Stadium Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images

Andrew Smithson says...

Time is running out, but I am still confident about our transfer business.

The club have been going about things in the right way, and I am sure that there will be lots going on behind the scenes.

Given the type of signings we are trying to make, the deals are bound to take time and are probably dependent on selling clubs getting other targets lined up. Once that happens, I think we’ll begin to see things start falling into place.

I assume there will be another forward coming in, but perhaps a player who can compliment Ross Stewart and Ellis Simms, as opposed to being a like-for-like or backup option. Both of those players like to work the channels and pin down defenders, so a ‘fox in the box’-type poacher would offer some variety.

Daniel Ballard’s injury means that our defensive plans may have changed, and I think there is room for a wing-back/full-back, too. In midfield, Corry Evans’ recent absence highlighted the need for reinforcements in front of the defence.

What is refreshing is that these would all be ‘in an ideal world’ buys.

Performances and results so far mean we are not in a blind panic about things, and it means the recruitment team can be more measured. If a deal isn’t quite right, they can afford to step away for now and reevaluate before the January window.

I did think that we would be after an experienced third-choice goalkeeper to work with Anthony Patterson and Alex Bass, but I now feel that would only happen if a brilliant opportunity fell our way.

The way Patto is going, it doesn’t look like he needs mentoring, so that can be put to one side.

A lot of people get whipped into a frenzy as deadline day approaches, and I must admit I enjoy seeing new faces coming into the club. This time, however, we are approaching it from a strong starting point. I’m excited by some of the names we’ve been linked to recently, and one or two additions of that calibre should see us right.

Stoke City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - bet365 Stadium Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images

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