The transfer deals that need to be done and could be done as Sunderland's season approaches

After a promising start to the window with the additions of Bailey Wright and Aiden O'Brien, Sunderland supporters have been left concerned with the depth of the squad as the season nears.

Thursday, 20th August 2020, 4:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th August 2020, 5:15 pm

Phil Parkinson wants five more additions and the opening game of the season, a Carabao Cup clash with Hull City on September 5th, is approaching with the need for depth in key positions clear.

The window will run until October, but by that point Sunderland will have been asked to play a demanding fixture list.

So what are the deals that need to be done and could be done?

Phil Parkinson is in the market for five further additions this summer

We take a look at the state of play, with regards to both incomings and outgoings...


The goalkeeper search

Jon McLaughlin's departure has left Sunderland with a vacancy that is still to be filled.

Remi Matthews has been identified as an option, and played for Parkinson during his spell at Bolton Wanderers.

His experience would offer a challenge to Lee Burge, with the Black Cats in competition with Championship clubs.

Wolves youngster Matija Sarkic has long been considered another option, and does have first-team experience from a loan at Livingston.

Defensive reinforcements

Morgan Feeney has impressed during a trial spell at the club and at 21, he comes with the added bonus of being exempt from the salary cup rules.

Sunderland clearly need two centre-backs if Parkinson is going to persist with the 3-4-3 shape he used for much of last season.

With four current right-footed options, Parkinson ideally needs another left-sided option.

Tom Flanagan has performed well on the left of the back three, with Parkinson pleased with both the cover he offers Denver Hume and the way he brings the ball out in possession.

It will be a long season, though, and depth is badly needed.

Adding competition for Hume on the left-hand side is one of the trickier deals for Sunderland to get right.

Luke Garbutt was a preferred option, a proven campaigner at this level, but the defender was unwilling to commit to a deal before the salary cap vote and that means his arrival is now unlikely (if not entirely ruled out).

Demetri Mitchell made an impression on trial but has other interest and at 23, would see his wages count towards the cap.

The Black Cats have no doubt considered whether a young loan option might be the way forward.

Clearly, a swift decision is increasingly key as it's a position in which they will be vulnerable without cover when the season begins.

Equally, protecting Hume’s development is a vital consideration as he’s one of the squad members with real potential value in the future.

The striker hunt

A striker has been a key priority right through the summer, and is one position where they had tried to push through a deal in order to beat the salary cap.

That attempt was ultimately unsuccessful and is in some of the other positions, improving his options within the financial parameters is a challenge.

The X-factor and final piece of the puzzle?

Sunderland held an interest in Scott Fraser, but that is one of the deals deemed extremely unlikely in the aftermath of the salary cap vote.

Fraser has Championship interest after a highly productive season for Burton Albion.

In terms of numbers, Parkinson is relatively well stocked in central and attacking midfield, when youngsters Elliot Embleton and Jack Diamond are taken into account.

The interest in Fraser, however, hinted at a desire for a touch more craft in the squad.

Supporters would certainly welcome it given the way Sunderland's attacking threat declined in the weeks before lockdown.

Sammie Szmodics is one name who has been linked, after an outstanding loan at Peterborough United last season.

Sources have raised doubts about the financial viability of any deal due to the salary cap, and new Bristol City boss Dean Holden appears to be still assessing his squad for the season ahead.

He's a player who will attract interest from most of the promotion hopefuls, if available.


Loans for young stars

Securing another goalkeeper will clear the way for Sunderland to find a loan for young goalkeeper Anthony Patterson.

The youngster is rated highly by Parkinson and his goalkeeping coach Lee Butler, but he needs senior experience before he could be considered a realistic contender for a starting place on Wearside.

Earlier this summer, Parkinson said: “I like Anthony and we're pleased he's signed a new contract,

“He is obviously still young and what he needs now is to go out and get some experience of senior football, so we will look to loan him out in the early part of next season.”

Sunderland will also have a decision to make on Jack Diamond at some stage before the window shut.

The youngster has made an impression on Phil Parkinson since returning from a hugely successful loan at Harrogate Town, winning praise for his performances in pre-season training.

Parkinson will continue to assess him and to what extent he feels he is ready for regular senior football.

It's a sound approach, particularly when you consider how congested the fixture schedule is set to be in the first month of the campaign.

With the window not shutting until October, the Black Cats have plenty of time to make a reasoned judgement on what is best for the next stage of his development.

The picture would clearly change again were Parkinson to add another number ten/creative midfielder to his squad, which would leave Diamond potentially fifth choice.

Whatever they decide, the future looks bright for 20-year-old.

Finding a solution to the Aiden McGeady conundrum

Finding a suitor for an unwanted player is an even more pressing issue in the salary cap era.

McGeady had an extended break after playing a big part in Charlton Athletic's attempts to beat the drop, his campaign extending into July while his Sunderland team-mates continued to wait for a restart date.

There is no future for the winger under Phil Parkinson, who said throughout January that he expected a deal to materialise late in the window.

With a year still left on McGeady's contract, a similar situation seems likely to develop.

Interestingly, Sunderland do seem to have a couple of options if no interest was to emerge (as unlikely as that seems).

In their press release announcing the salary cap rules, the EFL did suggest that a player could be exempt from the salary cap in the first season 'if not included in the club's squad list'.

They have also said that any contract severence payments will not count towards to the £2.5 million cap.

What next for Will Grigg?

Grigg raised doubts over his future on Wearside with some candid comments on his time at the club thus far, but did stress that he would be happy to stay.

Though Charlie Wyke has firmly been Parkinson's first-choice striker since his arrival, it is hard to see a viable option for Grigg in terms of an exit.

Sam Ricketts, the Shrewsbury Town boss who tried to sign Grigg last January, admitted that was a 'one-off scenario' and that any such deal was highly unlikely in the salary cap era.

Parkinson is in the market for another striker and has already added Aiden O'Brien, and so nothing can be ruled out at this stage.

For now, though, it looks as if Grigg will have to try and force his way into Parkinson's plans during the pre-season programme, when he will undoubtedly get opportunities to impress.

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