Phil Parkinson gives update on Sunderland's January planning and what fans can expect from key window

Phil Parkinson says Sunderland are making ‘good progress’ ahead of the January window, and insists the club are prepared to invest in players with ‘value’.
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Parkinson has repeatedly stressed the importance of the upcoming window, in which he will seek to make changes to a squad that has struggled desperately for results since his arrival.

Sunderland’s outlay over the summer was limited, with George Dobson the only player to arrive for a fee.

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The Black Cats were otherwise dependent on loan deals or free transfers as Jack Ross assembled a squad following the ultimately unsuccessful takeover talks with real estate businessman Mark Campbell.

Sunderland manager Phil ParkinsonSunderland manager Phil Parkinson
Sunderland manager Phil Parkinson

Parkinson is likely to look to the loan market again, but insists he will ensure any short-term addition makes sense for the club.

He also believes he will be able to commit fees on players who can ‘become an asset’ for the club.

At a recent meeting with the Red & White Army supporters group, Stewart Donald said there would be ‘signings for the future’.

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“With the Chairman, if there’s value in a player, someone who could come in and improve and increase their value and become an asset, then we’ll look at that,” Parkinson said.

“The loan market is an interesting one because we need to make sure that if a loan player comes in, they are doing so for the right reason.

“Whether that’s because they’re fighting for a contract with us going forward, and not just someone who is coming in without the hunger we need.

“That’s one thing I’m very conscious of.

“I feel like with the lads we’ve got we’re getting the right work ethic instilled in them, I can feel it in training all the time that the culture and way we’re doing things is getting better all the time.

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“I want to make sure that anyone who comes in signs up to that and doesn’t set us back,” he added.

“It’s getting the right people in to fit with what we’ve got, getting the injured players back out on the training pitch has made the squad look a lot healthier and I’m focused on getting more out of the lads we’ve got as well.

With Donald determined to back Parkinson despite poor results on the pitch, the Black Cats boss has been working closely with head of recruitment Tony Coton in recent weeks.

Coton is overseeing a recruitment department that has been expanded since the summer window to offer more support.

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Despite the club languishing in 13th position in the League One table, Parkinson is confident that he will be able to attract players who can improve his side and insists they should be competing with Championship clubs for signings.

“Good progress is being made,” he said.

“I’ve got a meeting on Monday evening about that with our recruitment team. It’s about spinning as many plates as possible so that when we finally get players through the door, there’s ones that we feel can improve the starting XI.

“It’s easy to get players in but it’s hard to get players in who can make you better and we’ve got to make sure that we compete for those ones.

“There’s so many players who want to come to this club.

“I’m expecting us to compete with Championship clubs for players because of the stature of the club. Players look at the potential of the club and what can be achieved here, you’d be crazy not to want to come on board and be part of that success.”

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Parkinson is likely to try and strengthen his striking options, even though the return of Charlie Wyke from injury is timely.

A new winger could also be required, with the Black Cats boss confirming that there have been enquiries from abroad for Aiden McGeady, who Parkinson has excluded from the first-team environment in recent weeks.

The Black Cats boss has a number of targets in mind but admits he may need to be patient when the window opens.

“In this kind of situation, you tend to end up with a club saying, we’re interesting in a player coming to you, but we want to bring someone in or get through the christmas games ourselves,” he said.

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“So the same conversations we have when someone asks about one of our players, we get when it is the other way.

“It’s about making sure we’ve got enough options so that if one of those deals falls by the wayside, we can go to them.”

At that meeting with supporters earlier this month, Donald told fans that there was a ‘clear synergy’ ahead of the window.

The minutes read: “SD appointed Phil Parkinson (PP) because he believes he is the right man for the job, he knows the league, is well connected and has a lot of experience; we are more ahead of the game, in terms of preparation for the January transfer window, than we were last year, there is a clear synergy at the club. There will be signings for the future.”