Burning issues facing Sunderland boss Simon Grayson ahead of Bury opener

Joel Asoro
Joel Asoro
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After more than five weeks of uncertainty, Sunderland finally unveiled Simon Grayson as their new manager.

With so much time elapsing between David Moyes resigning and the new man being unveiled, due to the takeover talks, it is fair to assume the new manager’s in tray was bursting at the seams when Grayson got down to work.

After one day’s training at the Academy of Light, Grayson faced the media before heading off to Austria for the club’s training camp in Obertraun.

It has been a whirlwind start but there is no time to waste as he plots Sunderland’s Championship campaign.

What are the burning issues facing Grayson ahead of the opening game of pre-season away at Bury on Friday?

Signings, signings signings:

At the forefront of Grayson’s mind is the need to bolster his threadbare Sunderland squad.

The club has already made it clear Sunderland will be working with a ‘realistic’ budget as they look to add quantity and quality to the squad. Everton wideman Aiden McGeady has a year left on his contract and can leave this summer.

Grayson enjoyed working with him at Preston during his loan spell and openly stated in May he wanted to re-sign him: “Sometimes a player comes to a particular club and it just fits for him. That is the way it worked for Aiden [at Preston] this season and I’ve said it many times that we want him back.”

Now Sunderland boss, Grayson wouldn’t be drawn on his interest but the Black Cats stand a good chance of landing him given his connection with Grayson.

Clearly the need for strikers is a priority after the departures of Jermain Defoe, Fabio Borini and Victor Anichebe. With five weeks to catch up on, Sunderland are working round the clock to land new faces.

Decisions to be made on wantaway players:

Lamine Kone, Wahbi Khazri and Papy Djilobodji are all in Austria training but they have big question marks over their Sunderland futures.

There is Premier League interest in Kone, though there has been little public interest in Khazri and Djilobodji - yet.

Financially, Sunderland may have no choice but to move the big earners on. Either way, Grayson will want a quick resolution and has already made it clear he won’t stand in the way of anyone wanting to leave, provided the price is right.

Vito Mannone is another whose future remains unclear. He would be an excellent No.1 in the Championship but can he be persuaded to stay and can Sunderland afford it.

To give youth a chance?

Sunderland made the decision to send the full Under-23 squad alongside the first team to Austria, a shrewd move given the next generation are likely to have far more opportunities this season.

The likes of Joel Asoro, Josh Maja, George Honeyman and Tommy Robson will all be looking to catch the eye of Grayson.

Sunderland face Bury on Friday and given the limited options, it is set to be a mix of first and Under-23 players that face Lee Clark’s side. Grayson has spoke openly about wanting to give the younger players a chance. This is their chance to stake a claim.

Decision from Seb Larsson:

John O’Shea has committed after signing a new 12-month deal but the club are still waiting to hear from Swedish midfielder Seb Larsson. The 32-year-old is understood to have been offered a deal but is wanted by Premier League new boys Brighton & Hove Albion so he has options.

His best years are behind him but his experience could be important in the Championship. Grayson will want an answer soon.