Revealed! The key areas Sunderland should be strengthening in January
Sunderland should concentrate their January transfer business on targeting a new striker, centre-half and full-back.
That’s the verdict of Sunderland fans who see those three areas as the key priorities come the new year.
The Black Cats, bottom of the Premier League and three points from safety ahead of Saturday’s visit of champions Leicester City, are in need of reinforcements.
But with Sunderland £140million in debt, January business is expected to be limited, with the club also close to the salary cap for wages.
David Moyes is hoping to add a touch more quality, though, when the window opens.
Today, we reveal the results of an Echo poll and it was clear which areas fans want to see strengthened:
Do Sunderland need a new goalkeeper in January? Yes 2% No 98%
Given the strength in depth Sunderland have in the goalkeeping department, it was no surprise the result was overwhelming.
Jordan Pickford has been in fine form since taking over from Vito Mannone, after the Italian was ruled out for two months with an elbow injury.
Such has been the form of the 22-year-old that he was drafted into the last England squad and is set for an extended run between the Sunderland sticks.
It leaves Mannone warming the bench. The ex-Arsenal man started the season as No 1 until his injury. Moyes can, at least, rest easy that he has no problems in this area.
Do Sunderland need a new full-back? Yes 76% No 24%
Full-back was an area of summer concern, with Javier Manquillo signed on a season-long loan from Atletico Madrid to provide competition for Billy Jones and Patrick van Aanholt.
Manquillo can play on either flank, Donald Love can play right-back, while Jason Denayer is a versatile defender capable of playing across the back four.
The recent form of Jones has won praise from Moyes, who hailed his steadiness at the back for the Black Cats.
But more than three quarters of supporters still want to see a new full-back arrive in January.
Do Sunderland need a new centre-back? Yes 85% No 15%
Lamine Kone is a wanted man, with West Ham heavily linked with a £15million move for the Ivory Coast international, who was the subject of an £18million bid from Everton in the summer.
Sunderland have shipped 23 goals in 13 games, but there have been definite signs of recent improvement.
Back-to-back victories over Bournemouth and Hull City, which included the first clean sheet of the season, was followed by a strong defensive showing against title-chasing Liverpool.
Moyes has Kone, John O’Shea, Papy Djilobodji and Jason Denayer available to him at centre-back, but with Kone set to be involved in the Africa Cup of Nations for several weeks in the new year, central defence is an area of concern.
Djilobodji could be involved too, but he hasn’t played for Senegal since early 2015.
Do Sunderland need a new holding midfielder or winger in January?
Moyes’ central midfield options have been decimated this season, with Lee Cattermole, Jan Kirchhoff and Paddy McNair all suffering injuries, with the Northern Ireland international expected to miss the season.
Kirchhoff is on his way back and Seb Larsson is fit again, so there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The club splashed out £13.6million on club record signing Didier Ndong in the summer and just 41% of fans wanted to see Sunderland sign a new holding midfielder.
Meanwhile, fans were evenly split over the wide roles, with 51% wishing to see a new winger arrive in January.
Do Sunderland need a new striker? Yes 87% No 13%
Victor Anichebe has given the whole team a major boost, with the former Everton and West Brom striker netting three goals in three starts.
The 28-year-old has struck up an instant partnership with Jermain Defoe.
But Sunderland are relying heavily on those two, with Duncan Watmore yet to get off the mark and Fabio Borini still making his way back from a long-term injury.
Fans have earmarked additional firepower up front as a key priority when the transfer window opens.
With money tight, though, Moyes and chief executive Martin Bain will have to be canny with their January dealings.