Contacts will be key as Jack Ross prepares to lead Sunderland's recruitment drive

Jack Ross officially starts work on Wearside today but there is no doubt that he will already have begun formulating plans for his squad next season.

Thursday, 31st May 2018, 6:00 am

The rumour mill has been in full force since his appointment was confirmed at the end of last week, and there has been a clear theme to the links.

John McGinn, the creative Hibernian midfielder. Kyle Magennis, a young talent whose career Ross kick-started at St Mirren.

Sunderland manager Jack Ross.

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Most recently, Florian Kamberi, the Swiss striker who made an impressive impact at Hibernian in the second half of last season, on loan from Grasshoppers.

There is little doubt that Ross will seek to utilise his contacts north of the border this summer as he faces up to the daunting task of building a team almost entirely from scratch.

Stewart Donald was absolutely clear at his unveiling that the manager would lead the recruitment process, saying: “The manager will recruit the players, that will be his call.

“We have a recruitment team and there will still be a recruitment team who works with him, but there will be no interference from Charlie [Methven] or I.”

News followed that Neale McDermott and Jimmy Sinclair, who were both part of that recruitment team last season, had left the club.

That recruitment team will almost certainly be rebuilt in the future, with a balance to be struck between bringing in people Ross is comfortable working with and who understand what kind of players he requires, and widening the club’s network and base of players.

With a need to make swift progress on incoming transfers, his own contacts will be key in the short-term and it is only natural that he will look to the leagues that he knows well.

He will be helped, too, by the fact that the club has been scouting potential League One players towards the end of the latter campaign, with a view to them either making the jump to the second tier or playing their part in a promotion push should the worst happen.

Ross will hope that a blend of the two, alongside some of the club’s academy talent, will create the high-tempo team he craves.

Kamberi is certainly a well regarded player and while Hibernian are well ahead in the race to sign him, his future is not resolved and a club the size of Sunderland is attractive.

The key, in a theme that is likely to recur throughout the summer, is whether the Black Cats will be able to acquire expensive talent when there is need for such a significant number of signings.

Kamberi would likely cost close to £2 million, with John McGinn commanding an ever bigger fee.

Stewart Donald has said he expects Sunderland to have the biggest budget ever seen in the third tier but it is worth remembering that Wigan, who won the league last year, did not pay a fee for a player until the January window.

Crucial will be bringing the wage bill under control and in that department, Ross will need the help of his new employers.

If they achieve that, it will be down to him to take advantage.