ANTON FERDINAND insists Sunderland need to win the battle of the new boys if they are to prevail at Liverpool.
Sunderland and Liverpool were the two early movers in this summer’s transfer market, with Steve Bruce securing nine of his 10 summer signings by the third day of pre-season training.
Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish was similarly intent on landing his targets in good time for the start of the Premier League, with the £50million triple deal for Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing wrapped up by mid-July.
With so many fresh faces on show in Saturday’s curtain-raiser at Anfield, defender Ferdinand believes the deciding factor will be which of the two sides can integrate their signings quickest.
The 26-year-old told the Echo: “It’s going to come down to which team gels best on the day.
“Of course they’ve made some impressive signings.
“They’ve taken one from here in Jordan Henderson, who has been a great player for this club. We know what he can do.
“It’s up to us to keep him quiet along with the likes of Downing, Adam and (Luis) Suarez.
“But look at the players we’ve brought in. We’ve got a good enough squad to go there and get something.
“We’ve got players who can do damage to them, the likes of Asa (Gyan) and (Stephane) Sessegnon are quality players.
“We’ve got a strong turning central midfield as well, whoever plays in there.”
Despite bolstering his options over the summer, Dalglish is likely to be without four integral players on Saturday.
Steven Gerrard, Glen Johnson and Martin Skrtel are ruled out through injury and Luis Suarez is being rested following his exploits for Uruguay in the Copa America.
Gerrard missed Liverpool’s visit to Wearside in March and he continues to be dogged by a groin injury.
But Ferdinand shrugged off the loss of Liverpool’s talisman – insisting there are plenty who can fill the gulf left by the England midfielder.
Ferdinand, in contention to start Saturday’s game with doubts persisting over the sharpness of Michael Turner and Titus Bramble, added: “It doesn’t really matter about Gerrard.
“Yes, he’s a top quality player but they’ve got top quality players to fill his boots.
“We can’t think ‘Gerrard’s out, it should be alright’. That’s not the way to look at games in the Premier League.
“We’re going to have to work harder than Liverpool but it’s like that every game.
“Maybe, we can catch them cold, but it’s going to be hard with them having so many good players.”