Dick Advocaat admits Sunderland’s pre-season shortcomings have only reinforced his existing views on the Black Cats squad.
Sunderland will play their penultimate friendly at League One Doncaster tonight (kick-off 7.45pm) after a pre-season programme which has been distinctly lacking fireworks in the opening four warm-up games.
Advocaat’s side averaged just a goal per game during their three outings in North America, with the Black Cats looking leggy and struggling to offer an attacking threat.
The head coach has not been taken aback by what he has witnessed, despite getting his first real chance to experiment with the players at his disposal after the make-or-break nine games at the end of the season.
But Advocaat believes new signings Jeremain Lens, Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Coates should make a difference, while Connor Wickham and Danny Graham also missed the final friendly in North America against Toronto through injury.
And he also remains hopeful that there will be a further couple of attack-minded additions to the squad before the transfer window shuts at the end of the month.
Advocaat told the Echo: “We have done some good things so far (in pre-season) but other things that have not been so good.
“That’s been a confirmation of what I already knew.
“But it still helps that you see it again.
“We had five players sitting in the stands (against Toronto) and they are also good players, so they will hopefully make a difference.”
He added: “This week we should know a little bit more about things.
“We’ve had some physical tests so far (in America and Canada) which was what we needed.
“That will have done us good now that we’re back home.
“The most important thing for me is that the players are getting into shape.”
As reported last week, Sunderland’s bid to add to the four signings already made this summer is being held up by the need to remove those considered surplus to requirements from the wage bill.
There is thought to be money available to spend on new players, but the club needs to get players off the books to comply with the Premier League’s financial regulations.
Sporting director Lee Congerton has already offloaded El-Hadji Ba and Santiago Vergini this summer, but Sunderland are also keen to find new clubs for Valentin Roberge, Charis Mavrias, Liam Bridcutt, Will Buckley and one of the strikers at Advocaat’s disposal.