MARTIN O’Neill will run the rule over the Sunderland players out on loan as he continues to assess his playing squad.
The Black Cats boss will soon enter the first transfer window in his new role and says he wants to have a clear understanding of everyone’s strengths and weaknesses as he plans for the future.
Sunderland currently have Nyron Nosworthy on loan at Watford, George McCartney at West Ham, Cristian Riveros at Kayserispor, Asamoah Gyan at Al-Ain and Liam Noble at Carlisle United.
And O’Neill insists he plans to give everyone in the squad he inherited from Steve Bruce a fair crack of the whip.
The new manager has arrived at a time of something of a sea-change in Sunderland’s finances.
The big-spending days financed by Drumaville and Ellis Short in the days of Roy Keane and Steve Bruce are not seen as sustainable and this year there has been a more economic approach to transfer business as the club looks increasingly towards balancing its books.
That does not necessarily mean there will be no money to spend in the January window – but O’Neill has already signalled he is not intent on buying his way out of trouble next month.
He accepts that his first job is to manage the players he already has at the club and to get the very most out of the players currently on the payroll.
“You get to know the players more every week you work with them but obviously we are still at the learning stage in the first few weeks,” he said.
“We have good players here already and I’m determined that everyone will get a chance at some stage to show what they can do and have an opportunity to push for a place in the first-team squad.
“I think it’s only natural for me, having just taken over, not to want players to go out on loan immediately. I want to see what I’ve got and I want to work with the players to see what difference it might make to them.
“But I’m also looking at going out to see the players we already have on loan – like Nyron Nosworthy at Watford for example.
“I want to be up to date on everything and I think it’s very important that we have our loan players watched and have full and clear reports on them.
“In an ideal world you want to assess everyone but you can’t do everything immediately and we have to accept that we’re in a run of games in a short space of time that demand our full attention.
“One advantage perhaps though of those six or seven games right now is having to utilise everyone to get through them and in doing that, you’ll get to look at a lot of the players.” O’Neill’s plan is to take stock before he decides anything – but he does expect the picture to become clearer in the New Year.
“There are people around the football club who would have an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of the players, and that’s useful,” he said.
“For the moment though I’m happy not to know for certain. I’m happy to give people opportunities.
“In the middle of January we might decide that going out on loan might be a good idea for a player – if it gives them a chance to play a few games in the Championship, in order to come back fit and strong.”