Sunderland legends name two key areas club needs to strengthen during this summer’s transfer window

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Sunderland legends Gary Bennett and Gordon Armstrong discuss where Sunderland need to strengthen in the summer transfer market.

Sunderland legends Gary Bennett and Gordon Armstrong say the club need to strengthen their striker and central midfield options during this summer’s transfer window.

The Black Cats finished 16th in the Championship after a hugely disappointing second half of the season, winning just two of their final 15 matches. Despite signing four new strikers (Nazariy Rusyn, Mason Burstow, Eliezer Mayenda and Hemir) last summer, Sunderland were also heavily reliant on Jack Clarke’s goals throughout the 2023/24 campaign, with the winger scoring 16 league goals. 

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“It’s not rocket science at the end of the day. If you have a striker who scores 20, 25 goals it’s certainly a big help,” Armstrong told the Echo. “Our strikers, the maximum anyone has scored is Rusyn with two. It’s been a problem there is no doubt about it.

“Listen, the club has got a model and way to do things, I understand that, but you still have to have one or two players with experience in there in my opinion. Also I think the holding midfield role has been key to us as well. Corry Evans has missed most of the season and we’ve needed someone like that to just maybe get hold of the ball a little bit, bully people and get stuck in.”

After finishing in the play-offs last season, Sunderland were challenging for a top-six place again during the first half of this campaign. Yet despite credible results against promotion challengers West Brom, who they beat 1-0, and Leeds ,who they held to a goalless draw, Sunderland finished with 56 points - 17 points behind sixth-place Norwich.

“You’ve seen teams in the last couple of games, we’ve seen West Brom, Leeds, and you’re thinking we’re not too far away,” Bennett added. “You are thinking if we just had maybe a striker we wouldn’t have been far away.”

Sunderland are set to announce their retained list in the coming days and will be looking to strengthen their squad when the transfer window reopens in June.

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