Kone just the start for Sunderland – Allardyce eyes THREE new arrivals early in window

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce suffers in last night's defeat to Liverpool

Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce suffers in last night's defeat to Liverpool

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Lamine Kone could be the first of several new arrivals at Sunderland in the opening hours of the January transfer window.

Sunderland’s need for reinforcements was again highlighted by last night’s defeat to Liverpool, which left Sam Allardyce’s side seven points adrift of safety at the halfway point of the campaign.

The Black Cats are on the verge of signing Lorient centre-half Lamine Kone after he underwent a medical on Wearside yesterday, with the deal expected to be signed and sealed by the weekend.

Allardyce declined to comment on Kone when asked last night, yet Lorient have confirmed they have accepted a fee – mooted to be around the £5million mark – for the 26-year-old, who has been eager to move to the Premier League for several months.

But Kone is not the only fresh face that Allardyce is hoping to add early on in the window, with Sunderland understood to be lining up another two signings.

At least one of them, like Kone, is thought to be arriving from France’s Ligue 1.

Along with a centre-half, a new centre-forward has been at the top of Allardyce’s wish-list for several weeks, while Lorient right-back Lamine Gassama is reported to have turned down Sunderland’s advances, despite his contract expiring at the end of the season.

The transfer window opens on Saturday and Allardyce is under no illusions about Sunderland’s desperate need to bring in reinforcements before their situation in the relegation battle is irreversible.

“Hopefully we will be successful sooner rather than later in January,” he said.

Sunderland need points as well as new recruits though, with this weekend’s visit of basement boys Aston Villa promising to be a make-or-break encounter for both sides.

Allardyce was heartened by a much-improved show of commitment against Liverpool last night, but knows that the clash between the Premier League’s two bottom clubs promises to be a test of nerves.

“The only thing we need is someone to put the ball in the back of the net and us to win a game to build confidence,” said Allardyce.

“We’ve got to face the fact that you can always lose against Liverpool even if you play your best.

“What you have to do is play your best against Aston Villa and win.

“That’s what we’ve got to do. That’s the real nerve-tester now.

“We must keep our nerve on Saturday, even though they will have had a couple of days more than we have to get ready for this game.

“We have to be ready physically and mentally to make sure we’re the team who comes away with three points.”