Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill will wait for new faces

Martin O'Neill.
Martin O'Neill.
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MARTIN O’NEILL expects Sunderland’s transfer activity to step up a gear once the Black Cats have returned from their pre-season tour.

Sunderland fly out to South Korea to play in the Peace Cup on Monday, with just one fresh face among their ranks.

Bosman signing Carlos Cuellar has been the only new arrival at the Stadium of Light this summer despite Sunderland being linked with the likes of Steven Fletcher, Junior Hoilett and Steven N’Zonzi.

But O’Neill is confident Sunderland will add to their numbers after the week-long stay in Korea, with the Premier League opener at Arsenal now just five weeks away.

“When we come back from South Korea I would expect the situation to change,” O’Neill told the club’s website.

“We’re obviously in the market to try to strengthen our team.

“I think that’s pretty obvious – all football clubs will be trying to do that.

“But for us it would be nice to add a couple of fresh faces – not just for the sake of it, but to improve the quality of the squad which is what we’re trying to do.”

Cuellar has spent the past two days training with his new team-mates at the Academy of Light after penning a two-year deal with Sunderland earlier this month.

O’Neill believes landing the out-of-contract centre-half will boost Sunderland’s defensive options after he paid almost £8million to take the Spaniard from Rangers when he was Aston Villa manager.

“Carlos is a strong centre-back and that’s where he likes to play,” O’Neill added.

“He did play a lot for me at right back at Aston Villa too, particularly when we had James Collins and Richard Dunne in the centre.

“Carlos will always say he’s better on the ball than I give him credit for and that’s probably true.

“He’s very sound and a strong character. His contract had come to an end at Villa and I thought he was certainly worthwhile taking on.

“We’ve had a few injuries to some very decent centre-backs we have here at the football club (last season).

“(Cuellar) might help see us through the season. The number of players we had out last season at any given stage, particularly in that (defensive) department, was hard to take at times.”