Sunderland January transfer window state of play: Where Lee Johnson will look to strengthen as Cats face competition

Sunderland are still looking to strengthen their squad before the end of this month – with attacking reinforcements the club’s priority.

Friday, 14th January 2022, 5:59 pm

Here's the current state of play at the Stadium of Light as we reach the halfway point of the transfer window:

What’s happened so far?

Sunderland moved quickly to bring in teenage right-back Trai Hume from Northern Irish club Linfield FC.

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Sunderland boss Lee Johnson.

Hume, 19, hasn’t featured for Sunderland yet but is seen as a long-term asset after signing a four-and-a-half-year contract on Wearside.

In terms of outgoings, defender Frederik Alves has been recalled by West Ham, which will free up some funds in Sunderland’s budget.

The Black Cats are also looking to send some of their younger players out on loan to gain more first-team experience, as under-23s coach Mike Dodds told the Echo this week.

So far striker Will Harris and midfielder Stephen Wearne have joined Barrow and Torquay in League Two and the National League respectively.

Which areas are Sunderland looking to strengthen?

As already mentioned, the priority for Sunderland is to provide support for Ross Stewart up front.

With Nathan Broadhead set to be sidelined until around March time, Benji Kimpioka is the only other recognised striker in the Black Cats’ squad.

Sunderland are also in the market for another attacking midfielder, with Manchester City playmaker Patrick Roberts just one player they have been tracking.

The squad is also light in central midfield, after Luke O’Nien suffered a long-term injury, and at centre-back following Alves’ departure.

What’s happening with Jermain Defoe?

The former Sunderland striker is clearly someone who would be welcomed back on Wearside.

Johnson has said the club are aware of Defoe’s situation after the player left Rangers this week, but did say there are ‘a million and one’ things that would have to fall into place.

Still, the Sunderland boss didn’t rule out a move and spoke at length about Defoe’s professionalism and attachment to the area.

If the 39-year-old does decide to carry on playing, a return to the Stadium of Light would surely be a possibility.

What has Lee Johnson said?

When asked about the club’s transfer situation ahead of Saturday’s trip to Accrington Stanley, Johnson spoke about the challenges and competition in the market.

"You're in the mix for players but there's fierce competition,” he said.

"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."

Sunderland will be looking at loan deals from Premier League teams, yet clubs may now be more reluctant to let players leave due to Covid-19 issues and backlog of fixtures.

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