Sunderland’s Martin O’Neill keeps options open

IMPROVING FORTUNES ... Martin O'Neill believes Sunderland have turned a corner.
IMPROVING FORTUNES ... Martin O'Neill believes Sunderland have turned a corner.
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MARTIN O’NEILL is working on a number of fronts to strengthen Sunderland’s squad but warns January transfer windows are always unpredictable.

The Black Cats boss is hoping to improving his options all over the park – with Bursaspor midfielder Alfred N’Diaye likely to be the first through the door – but the manager says that the goalposts can change all the time when it comes to who is available and at what cost.

He told the Echo:“You have certain targets who, if they are within reach, you do everything you can to get them.

“And then there are other things that develop as time goes on which, in the first 10 days of the transfer window, you didn’t think would materialise at all.

“So it’s a bit of moveable feast in that sense – you start off with targets and some might come off, some might not.

“And then as the transfer window progresses you’ll find a player unexpectedly becomes available, or one big transfer has a knock on effect elsewhere and other players are suddenly available.

“It’s just a question of getting the right player in for your club at the right price.”

O’Neill will look to get value for Sunderland owner Ellis Short’s money in this window, as he did in the last. But he points out that he is prepared to pay a higher price than he would prefer for a player if he thinks the player is right for Sunderland right now and could still represent value for money.

“I know people say the January window is notorious for selling clubs charging premium prices, because everyone is chasing the same sort of player and it becomes a bit difficult,” he said.

“But I don’t think you should look at it that way. If there’s somebody that you think can do well for you at the football club, and it is not just a short-term situation, then maybe you might have to pay a little over-the-odds.

“But if you can afford to do it and you feel that this player will give you value for money, then I’ve never seen a major problem with that.

“And let’s remember, there are clubs who pay over-the-odds for players in the June-August transfer window, never mind in January!”

Sunderland started this season with a relatively small squad and injuries have made it smaller still.

Currently sidelined are skipper Lee Cattermole, defenders John O’Shea, Wes Brown, Danny Rose and Carlos Cuellar, plus frontman Stephane Sessegnon.

And things have become so stretched that O’Neill did not have enough senior players to fill the subs’ bench for the Black Cats’ FA Cup third round tie at Bolton at the weekend.

The squad needs fresh blood desperately and O’Neill will hope that N’Diaye helps solve part of the problem but he is still expecting to see others come in to swell the squad.

“We do definitely need players in, hopefully players who are capable of coming in and making an impact on the team,” he said.

“And if not, then certainly players who will be good additions to the squad. We will do our utmost to bring those players in, and we will have to use the whole month as an opportunity for us to try and do something in the transfer market.”