SUNDERLAND are likely to wait until the summer to bring in a new long-term centre-half.
The Black Cats have been mindful of the need to bolster their options in the heart of the back four, with John O’Shea and Wes Brown both in their 30s, while Santiago Vergini and Sebastian Coates are only at the Stadium of Light on loan deals.
Swansea rejected a £4million offer from Sunderland last June for skipper Ashley Williams before he signed a new contract at the Liberty Stadium.
Sunderland then turned their attentions to Celtic’s Virgil van Dijk and were keen to land the Dutchman, before ultimately deciding they couldn’t meet the £10million asking price for the 23-year-old, who is untested in the Premier League.
Van Dijk is still on Sunderland’s radar, although there are a host of admirers for the highly-rated Celtic man, with Spurs the latest club to be linked with him earlier this week.
But after Sunderland agreed a new two-year deal with skipper O’Shea earlier this season, Gus Poyet has indicated that the Black Cats’ ongoing search for a centre-half is more likely to reach a successful conclusion in the summer than in the January transfer window.
Head coach Poyet told the Echo: “I think it depends. January is difficult.
“There needs to be a lot of things coming together.
“It’s difficult for everything really.
“We’ll see. We did what we needed to do with John.”
Poyet is not looking for a host of additions in the January window, with quality, rather than quantity, forming the club’s strategy for new recruits.
Adding to Sunderland’s attacking threat is likely to be the priority, with the Black Cats netting just 13 times in their 15 Premier League outings so far this season.
Sunderland received a major boost yesterday when Connor Wickham agreed to a new four-year deal at the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats are also one of a number of Premier League clubs who have been linked with a loan move for Chelsea’s Mohamed Salah.
But Poyet has warned that Sunderland will need to shrew operators next month if they are to bring in successful new recruits.
He added: “Some people say to me ‘maybe you can get a player on loan who changes your season’.
“Where is that player?
“Unless it’s someone coming from a bad injury and needs to play, it’s difficult.
“Now if Man United want us to take Falcao for six months... We will do.
“But that doesn’t happen a lot.
“You need to be very smart in January.”