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For Sunderland, January promises to be a crucial month, both on and off the pitch

Any transfers completed by over the next three weeks will offer some insight into the club’s ambitions for the remainder of the season, writes Jon Guy

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Sunderland v Everton - Stadium of Light Photo by Steve Drew - PA Images via Getty Images

It’s been very quiet on the Wearside front as the first ten days of the January transfer window have come and gone.

Two players have already departed Sunderland, with Ellis Simms recalled to Everton and Jay Matete being loaned to Plymouth, having seen his opportunities limited in the Championship this season.

Reading v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by David Horton - CameraSport via Getty Images

Both the club and Tony Mowbray have been vocal about the fact that they’re working hard to bolster the squad, and top of the list after what we experienced during the first half of the season will surely be a striker or two to support Ross Stewart.

There’s a case to be made for bringing in reinforcements in almost all areas of the pitch, and I believe that in some ways, our successful start to the season has given the club’s hierarchy a problem.

As the cheers died down on Wembley Way after the playoff final, many were saying that we simply needed to consolidate in the Championship this season.

Survival, a platform on which we could build, was a successful campaign and while there were many who said that we should be aiming for promotion this year, the majority didn’t believe that was on the cards.

Times have changed, however, and it’s likely that there are some interesting conversations taking place in the dressing room and the boardroom.

We have a young, dynamic, and skilful side, which despite not having a recognised striker for two months of the campaign, finds itself firmly in the mix for the playoffs.

Shrewsbury Town v Sunderland: Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

I’m sure that if we were to ask Mowbray and the team, they’d be adamant that they’re all for pushing onwards and upwards in the belief that this season can only get better as the squad improves.

We’ve also got a winnable FA Cup fourth round tie against Fulham at the end of the month, and that might open up a path to a decent cup run

With that in mind, therein lies the conundrum for the board.

Do they look to invest in more talent in order to mount a concerted effort to return to Wembley in May, or do they look to consolidate and ensure we’ll be plying our trade in the Championship next season – albeit with a far stronger squad than the group who arrived for pre-season training last summer?

We know the club’s owners have been determined to deliver financial stability and sound management, both on and off the pitch.

Blackpool v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

There are question marks over the futures of both Ross Stewart and Alex Pritchard, whose contract runs out at the end of the season and is likely to attract attention from several suitors in the coming weeks.

It’s clear that Kristjaan Speakman has a list of targets and we all appreciate that if a player is attracting our attention, it’s likely that there are other suitors, even if their parent club is willing to listen to offers.

I’m sure that whatever the outcome, it’ll prompt a good deal of debate among the fans about the success or failure of the window.

However, have Dreyfus and the board been looking at the pros and cons of an all-out push for promotion in the hope that we can aim to consolidate in the Premier League? Will the riches on offer tempt the board into loosening the purse strings more than may have been originally envisaged?

The next three weeks will be interesting to say the least!

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