GUS POYET has a clear idea of which positions Sunderland need to strengthen in the January transfer window.
The Sunderland boss held talks with sporting director Lee Congerton last week to draw up a shortlist of targets for January, with the Black Cats squad still short on numbers despite nine summer signings.
A three-month lay-off for Patrick van Aanholt has left Poyet without a specialist left-back, while the head coach was keen to add a permanent centre-half and another forward – in the shape of main target Fabio Borini – to his ranks during the summer.
Those are likely to be Poyet’s three priorities this time around, with the Uruguayan already sure of where Sunderland are short, albeit injuries could change his thinking before the window opens on January 1.
Poyet told the Echo: “Yes, I know which positions we want.
“We had a good idea, but it’s become clearer over the last few weeks.
“It does depend though. You have to be ready and manage the situation if it changes.”
The rumour mill has already begun to spin over potential targets for Sunderland, with the Black Cats along with Crystal Palace, both linked with Senegal international midfielder Stephane Badji.
Speculation over Badji, who currently plies his trade for Norwegian side Brann, is likely to be agent-led, but Sunderland are known to have been scouting extensively in Scandinavia over recent months.
Portugese winger Bruma – the subject of a loan enquiry from Sunderland last January – has also been linked with the Black Cats, with Turkish side Galatasary prepared to offload the highly-rated 20-year-old.
However, sources close to Bruma have indicated that while he is keen Galatasary – and would be interested in moving to the Premier League – there has been no contact whatsoever from Sunderland since January.
Poyet and Congerton will have to decide whether it is worth making a renewed bid for Borini too after Sunderland’s summer-long bid to re-sign the Italian ultimately failed.
Borini has featured in each of Liverpool’s last four games, while Italian giants Inter Milan have confirmed their interest in the ex-Sunderland loanee.
But while Sunderland will be wary of devoting their energies to signing Borini again, the position vacated by the 23-year-old remains a problem for Poyet.
Connor Wickham has predominantly filled in the left-sided forward role, but while the England Under-21 international enjoyed an improved performance in Sunderland’s last outing against Everton, he remains more comfortable as an orthodox central striker.
However, when asked whether that ‘Borini position’ would be his top priority in January, Poyet replied: “I think it will depend on the goals we score between now and then.
“If you’d asked me the other week, I would have said ‘yes, 100 per cent’.
“Players we’re looking at are probably the style of player that are strikers who can play wide.
“That doesn’t mean Connor isn’t doing well. He’s been doing unbelievable for us and doing something we were not expecting.
“He linked very well with Fletch (Steven Fletcher) in pre-season and they’ve been giving us some presence.
“They were both outstanding against Stoke.
“If they score 10 each between now and January, maybe we won’t buy anyone.”