Sunderland boss Alex Neil makes budget admission when asked about transfer latest

Sunderland boss Alex Neil has admitted that the club are facing a battle to land targets who will likely be offered more money by clubs elsewhere in the Championship.

Neil still wants four or five additions before the transfer window shuts, and the situation has become more urgent with Dan Ballard facing an extended spell on the sidelines and Carl Winchester set to see a specialist about a back problem on Wednesday.

The head coach said that he had 'pretty much bust the door down' in trying to land more recruits, but is still playing a waiting game.

Neil was later asked if he remained confident that signings would arrive before the end of the month, and whether it was simply a case of playing a waiting game for established targets.

Sunderland boss Alex Neil

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He responded: "It's not easy, the problem is I can't make decisions for people.

"We're trying to recruit the best players we can, and earlier in the window you set your stall there [high] because I don't want to bring in players that are a 17th, 18th, 19th man. I want to bring guys in that are going to be a better second, third or fourth man.

"That comes at a premium, and that's why it is difficult. Not only that, we're in competition with other clubs at the same level that are arguably going to spend more money on those types of positions than we will."

Neil said that Sunderland's promising start to the season would almost certainly strengthen their position in trying to sell the move to players, as would the size of the club and the prospect of playing in front of 40,000 crowds at the Stadium of Light.

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He also feels Sunderland's model of only signing younger players on permanent deals does reduce the risk of making costly mistakes, though stressed the importance of ensuring there is enough experience in the team.

"It certainly makes it easier, and the nature of the club certainly makes it easier as well," Neil said.

"The fanbase, the atmosphere that you're going to be exposed to certainly makes it easier to attract players.

"But one thing I do know about players is that the mighty dollar speaks louder than any other factor.

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"That's just the nature of football, it's a short career and you will go where the best offer is.

"What I will say about our structure is the fact that when we're buying players, they're under the age of 24. The older guys we bring in tend to be free transfers.

"At the earlier stage of your career those younger players [tend to be more moving more for football reasons]. But you can only have so many younger players, you need experience alongside them. That's how they learn, just like any other industry.

"Those guys are tough to come across, you want people who are willing to buy into what you're doing, to help the younger players and to obviously show what they can do on the pitch."

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