Sunderland skipper John O’Shea is keeping his fingers crossed for new signings as head coach Dick Advocaat attempts to avoid another survival fight.
Advocaat was left admitting he needed reinforcements as last Saturday’s 4-2 drubbing at Leicester on the opening day of the new Barclays Premier League campaign rekindled memories of successive desperate fights against relegation.
The loss of winger Adam Johnson to a shoulder injury for at least eight weeks has exacerbated the need for further arrivals, and the Black Cats have been linked with Manchester United youngster Adnan Januzaj and former loan signing Fabio Borini in recent days.
Asked what the target for the season was, O’Shea told a BBC Newcastle phone-in: “To improve on last season, that has to be your target – to make sure we are not going into the last couple of games keeping away from the bottom of the table.
“There’s still obviously a couple of weeks to go in the transfer window, so in a couple of weeks we will know the full depth of our squad.
“We have lost Adam [Johnson] the other day for a good few weeks now as well – you are going to get things like that and if we do get a few additions in, you would be hoping that’s the competition that the manager spoke about for increasing the depth of the squad, but also the quality of the squad.
“It’s improving on last season, it’s always the case. You are hoping to improve on last season, without a doubt.”
Borini, of course, rejected the opportunity to make a permanent move to the Stadium of Light last summer after a successful loan spell, opting instead to take his chances with parent club Liverpool.
That decision ultimately did not work for the Italian and Sunderland fans are divided over the prospect of launching another bid to take him back to Wearside.
However, O’Shea has no such qualms.
He said: “I know the type of character he is – and obviously you saw it yourself on the pitch, how he plays – he is so positive, so in Fabio’s mind, he was going back to Liverpool to play, to break in.
“Obviously it didn’t go to plan for him, so now he’s got another step in his career to make.”
In the meantime, 34-year-old O’Shea, who was an unused substitute for the debacle at the King Power Stadium, and his team-mates will attempt to bounce back when promoted Norwich head for Wearside this weekend to face a side intent on turning the draws which caused them such a problem last season into wins.
The Republic of Ireland international said: “What the manager showed towards the end of last season – it was obviously the situation he came into, but he wants to go and attack, he wants to have a go at teams.
“He makes his changes not to worry about other teams, he’s making changes in the team to affect us going forward to score goals. I think that will see us definitely winning more games than drawing.”