Dick Advocaat is concerned that too many of Sunderland’s summer signings still need to get up to speed fitness-wise.
Head coach Advocaat has been pleased with Sunderland’s business during the transfer window and has no doubts that the Black Cats’ squad is stronger than it was last season.
However, Advocaat - who only got the chance to work with his full squad for the first time today after DeAndre Yedlin and Sebastian Coates were the last of the international players to return to the Academy of Light - still has his worries.
New boys Fabio Borini, Yann M’Vila, Younes Kaboul and Yedlin were all bit-part players at their former clubs last season, while Ola Toivonen made only one substitute appearance for Rennes before arriving at the Stadium of Light.
All of those players are still knocking the rust off and that is hampering Advocaat’s efforts to develop the right balance and combination to his starting XI.
Advocaat said today: “With the people we brought in, we’ve got more competition in the squad and that was what we needed.
“But we still have to find out the right balance of the squad.
“Of all the players we bought, only Lens was a regular. None of the rest were playing.
“They need more time to get their right fitness - from Toivonen, to Yann, to Borini, to Kaboul, to DeAndre.
“Physical-wise, they are not yet at the level that you have to be at in this league.
“That is our biggest concern. We have to work on that.
“But you can only get that if you play, not when you train.
“We have to decide whether to wait or put them straight in.”