Chris Coleman admits he will have to consider loaning a direct replacement for Darron Gibson in this month’s transfer window after being rocked by the news that the playmaker could be missing for 12 weeks.
Sunderland will seek a third opinion on Gibson’s groin injury, but the former Everton man is expected to require surgery.
Coleman does not have another natural holding midfielder in the squad, a position that has been crucial to his tactics since arriving on Wearside.
With many of his other options unavailable for selection, the ex-Wales boss is keen to secure some cover.
He said: “We’ve not got a replacement really. We’ve got Paddy McNair coming back, but he’s not quite fit. Catts (Lee Cattermole) obviously won’t be fit for the weekend and they’ve got different attributes anyway.
“In terms of someone to sit in there and switch play for us, it is certainly something we might have to look at [in the window].
“It’s getting these players fit. Gibbo has been playing through injury really.
“George (Honeyman) has been in there, but he’s more of an offensive player really. Paddy hasn’t been fit,
“Catts isn’t fit, Rodwell, Ndong, plenty of names there. Obviously, a couple of them may not be with us – Ndong, Rodwell, we don’t know – so it is a position we need a bit of cover in certainly.”
The financial situation at the club means that Sunderland’s options are limited, but Coleman remains hopeful that he can make some crucial additions this month, not just in midfield but all over the pitch.
He admits that he will, in all likelihood, be gambling on unproven talents.
He said: “There’s loads of players that could help us in the positions we need, and they need first-team experience – Premier League players, younger players – but when we get down to the wages, we can’t do it.
“Then there’s another bracket of players that would be good for us as well, some of them a little bit less experienced but, I think, ready to take the leap.
“Some of them have been out on loan before, but some haven’t. They’re players who I think are ready to come here and sample what it is like playing for a big club and one in difficulty.
“It’ll be good for them if they’re up for it.”
Indeed, Coleman sees the positives in recruiting youthful players and believes experience does not always equate to having the right mentality for a relegation battle.
The Sunderland boss is acutely aware that finding players with the right mental attitude is critical at a time when morale and confidence has been worn down.
He said: “Sometimes you get experienced players who have been around the block a bit, and when you come to Sunderland there is a certain demand on a player – you have to show passion and you have to play to win and you have to have a certain mentality.
“Sometimes the older ones have been round the block too many times, while the younger ones have vitality and a bit of fighting spirit. Maybe they haven’t been beaten over the head so many times.
“People I talk to about coming here, I am brutally honest with them and I say that ‘if you haven’t got that, you can’t come. It will be a really bad experience for you’.
“If you are ready to roll your sleeves up and be out there in the spotlight,and you are going to have to produce, it’s an exciting experience then you can come here.
“Sometimes experienced players don’t always want to do that, they want an easier ride.
“It’s not an easy ride here – it’s not an easy 90 minutes here.
“The players I want to bring here, it’s not about the age, it’s about the hunger and the desire.
“If we do bring in experienced players, it will be on the back of a conversation so they are ready to come here and they know what to expect.
“I think it’s very important that we bring in players with the right mentality here.”
Coleman has also confirmed that he is yet to hear from Bournemouth regarding the future of Lewis Grabban.
Sunderland’s top goalscorer is still sidelined with a calf injury amid rumours that the Cherries will recall him ahead of a potential January sale.
However, Wolves, heavily linked with a swoop, have already signed striker Rafa Mir from Valencia and are reported to be interested in Robbie Keane.
Fulham were the other side credited with an interest in Grabban, but, in an extraordinary press conference yesterday, manager Slavisa Jokanovic revealed that the club have no active January targets and that the hierarchy believe no additions are required to push for promotion.