Jimmy Dunne could make Sunderland debut on Saturday as Jack Ross explains exactly why he signed him
The arrival of Jimmy Dunne on Wearside helps Jack Ross add a vital option to his squad.
Dunne is the kind of player he has been actively seeking for a number of months.
As far back as September, Ross took the former Marseille defender Gael Andonian on trial.
It was partly because the Sunderland boss is happy to look at any player who is available, but also because he felt his Sunderland group lacked a naturally left-footed defender.
Jack Baldwin has played admirably well on that side of the defence but he has been forced to play just about every week.
Sometimes, two or three times a week.
Ross wanted depth and recent games have also underlined a need for something a little bit different in the defensive line.
A touch more height, a touch more physicality.
Dunne, while still relatively inexperienced, brings all of these things.
He may not start against Luton Town but Ross has absolutely no concerns in throwing him straight into the squad.
After picking up an injury during the latter stages of his spell at Hearts, he played 90 minutes for Burnley U23s on Monday before heading for the Stadium of Light.
“He’ll be in the squad,” Ross said.
“The injury itself wasn’t too bad, with the winter break in Scotland he probably ended up being out a little bit longer.
“He trained at Burnley for a full week and then had the game with their U23s.
“No problems, he’s fit and I’m happy.
“Playing in the U23s was probably perfect for us.
“Initially, maybe naively , I hoped we could get it all done so he could play on Tuesday but that wasn’t possible for all sorts of reasons so getting those minutes under his belt was good.”
Ross has strong connections at Tynecastle, but says Dunne’s arrival is the sign of a well-functioning recruitment department.
“There’s obviously various areas of the country where I’ll have better knowledge and some where Tony Coton will have better knowledge,” Ross said.
“It’s good because we can all feed in a lot of players of information.
“Jimmy was one that naturally I watched because I still watch a lot of Scottish football and understand what is going on.
“In terms of references it was dead easy because of the players we know there.
“Then there’s the fact that Craig Samson actually played against him which was unusual but useful.
“He knows everybody in Scottish football anyway and can give you chapter and verse.
“So from my perspective it was easy, and it then allowed Tony to watch him.
“Tony then has a really good relationship with Sean Dyche as well.
“There’s a big process we went through and ultimately we just felt he was a really good fit for the club at this moment.”
Burnley have high hopes for Dunne, who impressed in pre-season before heading north of the border.
He has had three loan spells so far, each one of them a step up in class.
On each occasion, he has fought his way into the starting XI and never looked back.
Ross feels that is no coincidence and says this signing is as much about character as it is about ability.
That has been a hallmark of his recruitment work at the club so far.
“He was obviously schooled at Manchester United and generally you get a certain type and character, in terms of how they carry themselves and how they train,” Ross said.
“People will quickly get that from Jimmy.
“His attitude and desire to do well is clear from the first moment you speak to him.
“I think that’s why he’s adjusted to every level and challenge he’s had so far, he just wants to take it on.
“Loan players are difficult to always get right, you’ve seen that we’ve tried not to have too many of them in our squad.
“Although Jimmy is young, he’s had successful loan spells.
“He was part fo a successful Accrington side and then this season, although he got injured, he was part of a Hearts side that had a terrific start to the season.
“I’ve worked at that club on the coaching side, so I know how big a club that is and the pressures that come from playing in that Stadium.
“So a loan signing, he’s as good as we could get and as a young man, he fits the profile for us.”
A top of the table clash on Saturday could be the perfect place to start.