January signings have lifted the mood at Sunderland, says Sam Allardyce

Wahbi Khazri. Picture by FRANK REID
Wahbi Khazri. Picture by FRANK REID
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Sunderland’s January signings have already lifted the mood of a camp war-weary from the relegation battle, believes Sam Allardyce.

Black Cats boss Allardyce handed starts to three of his transfer window recruits in Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Liverpool, with a fourth, Dame N’Doye thrust into the action early on as a first-half substitute for the injured Duncan Watmore.

The quartet have shown plenty in the early stages of their Sunderland careers to justify their signings, albeit on-loan Trabzonspor striker N’Doye remains short on match fitness and was out-of-position on the right flank at Anfield.

But Allardyce says their contribution off-the-field has been equally crucial, in adding an injection of enthusiasm to a dressing room which has been engulfed by the shadow of relegation all season.

“I do believe that, in the short period of time, the new players have added some quality to the squad,” said Allardyce.

“The thing for me is they all look so happy to be here.

“When you get players coming to a Premier League club in our position and you’ve got a big smile on your face, hopefully it has an effect on the other lads.

“It’s been tough for them since the start of the season and you’ve got to keep a good spirit around the place.

“These lads are coming in fresh and want to prove themselves.”

Centre-back Lamine Kone and forward Wahbi Khazri both caught the eye on their Premier League debuts against Manchester City last week, and were again two of Sunderland’s better performers on Merseyside.

But defensive midfielder Jan Kirchhoff was unable to hit the heights shown against City, with the German still striving to reach full match fitness.

Allardyce added: “Kone’s defending is exceptionally good. He won probably more headers than anyone else at Liverpool.

“When you look at Khazri just coming from Bordeaux, he’s slotted in with energy and ability.

“N’Doye’s experience of scoring goals in the Premier League will hopefully come good. He scored five for Brucey (Hull boss Steven Bruce) at the back end of last season.

“And Jan, not so much on Saturday, but certainly against Man City, showed his quality of passing.

“We didn’t play that well at Liverpool, maybe because Jan felt the pace a little bit.

“He found it a bit too quick for him because he hadn’t fully recovered from Tuesday night.

“But he’s got a full week this week, like everybody else, and hopefully we can get a result against Manchester United next Saturday and go on from there.”