Sunderland boss gives this January transfer update and delivers verdict on loan exit

Lee Johnson says Sunderland are 'in the mix' for further reinforcements after Frederik Alves was recalled by West Ham United.

Friday, 14th January 2022, 6:01 pm

Sunderland brought in Linfield defender Trai Hume for a six-figure sum last week, and remain 'active' for reinforcements in other positions.

Attacking additions would be particularly welcome, particularly given that Ross Stewart is currently the only senior striker available for selection.

"It's a difficult question because things change at the drop of a hat," Johnson said.

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Lee Johnson says Sunderland are 'active in the transfer market'

"You're in the mix for players but there's fierce competition.

"We're in the mix and we're active, and there's been a lot of support from board level to do the right things.

"The reality is that we've just got to make sure whatever we do is right for the short, medium and long term.

"I'm comfortable with the squad and happy with the squad, though of course I'd like to improve it.

"We've got to keep driving on and moving forward, and that includes the evolution on the squad.

"We're in the mix, but we've got to see what happens."

Johnson admitted that Alves' limited game time was in part due to the major impact Callum Doyle has made, with the Manchester City loanee playing almost every minute of the league game when he had been expected to gradually work his way into the side.

"I think the thinking was game time," Johnson said of his departure.

"From his point of view it's been disappointing. The loan was done with good intentions, you take a player on loan from a Premier League club and we expect him to play.

"The consistency of results we've had, taking almost 2 points-per-game, the consistency of partnerships, the emergence of Callum Doyle who at 18 has played just about every minute of every game which you don't expect from someone of his age, and a couple of senior players [playing well] on that right side, has just limited his gametime.

"From now, everyone benefits.

"We are able to put a little bit back in the budget to bring players in, West Ham have options, and Frederik takes the learnings from his loan and he'll be better for it.

"Sometimes it happens, but like I say a lot of it is about freshening the squad up."

Johnson was also asked if Sunderland would replace Alves directly, or whether they would like to turn to Arbenit Xhemajli and Ollie Younger to step up.

Both have played in cup games this season and have been on the bench in recent weeks, but have not had any League One game time as of yet.

"Like all areas of the pitch, you've got to make decisions based on what's affordable and available, and what you've got," Johnson said.

"You always prefer to internally promote, so if Ollie or Arby gets that opportunity then they've got to take it.

"At the same time, game time is important for those guys and we have to make any decision based on the merits for Sunderland and then the player."

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