SUNDERLAND will make contingency plans to sign a new left-back in January – in case Patrick van Aanholt’s rehabilitation encounters any obstacles.
Van Aanholt faces around two-and-a-half months on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on the dislocated shoulder he suffered in the victory at Crystal Palace three weeks ago.
Head coach Gus Poyet plans to use versatile full-backs Anthony Reveillere and Billy Jones to cover for van Aanholt until the Dutch international is due to be back in contention in mid-January.
If that goes to plan, then Poyet doesn’t see the need to bring in another specialist left-back.
But should van Aanholt’s recovery hit a snag, Poyet has told Lee Congerton to look for possible left-back targets in January after holding further talks with the sporting director last night over the upcoming transfer window.
Poyet told the Echo: “I met Lee again to define a few things.
“And let’s say it (left-back) is a position that needs to be on standby.
“We need to have an option, just in case something doesn’t work and Patrick’s recovery has a setback.
“It all depends on how he recovers.
“If he doesn’t have any setbacks, it’s going to be the middle of January before he is training again.
“But he is a fit lad and, once the healing after the operation is finished, the speed of the recovery is up to him. We’ll see.”
Van Aanholt is the only specialist left-back in Sunderland’s squad and has arguably been the most impressive of the Black Cats’ nine summer signings after developing in just three months at the Stadium of Light.
Although ex-France international Reveillere has deputised impressively in his two games since penning a short-term deal with the Black Cats, Poyet admits the absence of van Aanholt is a loss.
“It’s a big blow to have lost Patrick,” he said.
“There are not many left-footed left-backs in the world – and it is very difficult to find one that is available at this level.
“He was getting used to what we wanted because we were working him hard every day!
“So it’s a step back.
“We have to cope with the situation.”
Setting aside the left-back situation, Poyet does not expect Sunderland to be bringing in a host of players in the January window.
Instead, Poyet will look to bring in one or two quality fresh faces who can make a real difference to the Black Cats squad.
“My idea is to bring as few in as possible,” he added.
“I don’t want too many changes.
“I think it’s time to mainly work with what we have got, but perhaps add one or two players that will really make a difference - not just bodies.
“Because when you try to add too many, you cannot get the quality you want with the money available. It’s impossible.
“We just need to concentrate on bringing in that one player who can take you to another level, and who will be the future of the club.”