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Opinion: “The countdown is on! Where do Sunderland need to bulk up?”

“With a few hours left on the transfer window, who do Sunderland need to bring in to have a squad capable of competing in the Championship?” asks Sam Quigley.

Original photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images,

Goalkeepers

Since taking the gloves from Thorben Hoffmann last season, Patterson has matured into a well-rounded keeper who has established himself as number one with excellent performances in the first few games this season.

Alex Bass didn't shine as brightly as we would have wanted him to when he was in goal against Sheffield Wednesday in the EFL Cup, conceding two goals on his debut - not the best of starts for the ex-Pompey stopper, but he’ll serve well as Patterson's competition.

Jacob Carney is the third-choice goalkeeper at the moment. If an offer comes in, I suspect he may go on a short-term loan to gain first-team football, with a recall clause in case of any injuries.

We’re well stocked for ‘keepers currently: I don't suspect that Kristjaan Speakman will be looking to add a fourth to an already congested position but with whispers in the wind of a certain Vito Mannone coming home, it would add some much-needed experience to the bench.

Sunderland v Queens Park Rangers - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Defence

This list may seem like a well-stocked defence, but we’re still not quite where we need to be.

There are natural defensive pairings in the team, yet with right-centre back currently being completely vacant, it looks as if we're looking for a right-footed centre-back to fill the void left by Ballard.

Sunderland could see defenders come through the doors of the AoL by 11pm as we look to fill the holes in the back line. They’ll most likely be another right-footed ball-playing defender who would push the game forward, rather a Glenn Loovens-type with the pace of rock erosion.

Moussa Sissako - who has been released by Standard Liege - was linked last week, whilst our pursuit of Jan Paul van Hecke from Brighton hit the rocks when it was suggested that Graham Potter wants to keep him around a while longer. Squeaky bum time!

Sheffield United v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Midfield

Embleton and Pritchard are attacking options as they are players who will drive the ball up to Stewart or Simms whilst predominantly playing in the number ten role.

Before Evans became a prime Sergio Busquets, I may have said that we needed to sign midfielders to play in the holding role but, with Evans becoming a new player this season and Dan Neil seemingly making the step up to Championship football, I don’t expect too many through the door in defensive midfield.

Bringing in Edouard Michut from PSG will hopefully add some real quality in that position too, and with Abdoullah Ba arriving too, we may have already done our business in the middle of the park.

Sheffield United v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Forwards

The Loch Ness Drogba has made the step up between divisions without even breaking a sweat and, with a strike partner in Ellis Simms, it is proving to be a potent mix.

Jack Clarke is currently being used as a left wing-back, as Sunderland continues to wrap the team around “the SaS”, but this position seems to work for him as Clarke has a license to rush forward knowing that Cirkin is behind, waiting to mop up any counters.

With the signing of Costa Rican wonderkid and guaranteed world-beater Jewison Bennette, Jack Diamond was shipped out on loan - and could soon be followed by Leon Dajaku now exciting young Ivorian Amad Diallo has joined from Manchester United on a season long loan.

In an ideal world, Sunderland would sign a third-choice striker who can do a job and fill a gap if anything were to happen to Simms or Stewart, either through injury or suspension.

The problem with that is that unless they’re a well-travelled journeyman who may be happy sitting on the bench, or if you take a chance on someone from a lower league looking to prove themselves, you’re going to find it difficult to sign someone who is actually capable of adding something.

With time slowly ticking away as we move into the last day of the transfer window it’s clear that we still have some work to do to prepare the squad for the test of the Championship.

Some new recruits at either and of the pitch will give us the squad depth we require and provide the ability to change the game with a greater quality of substitutions.

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

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