What to expect next from Sunderland after signing number two of the January window
Sunderland are set to announce Bailey Wright as their second January signing in a major boost for manager Phil Parkinson.
A number of Championship clubs had been monitoring the availability of Bristol City’s captain, who has struggled for minutes this season but boasts a wealth of experience.
The Black Cats won the race last week but the deal was held up as Lee Johnson’s side suffered a number of defensive injuries.
The deal will add real competition at the back for Parkinson, who wanted another option after the successful move to a back three.
Sunderland’s business is far from done, however, and here we run you through what to expect in the final stages….
Phil Parkinson has made no secret of his desire to add a midfielder to his ranks this month and it is likely to be the next priority once a deal for Bailey Wright is completed.
Parkinson has a central midfield partnership in Max Power and George Dobson that have been crucial in the recent run of excellent form, and he has been impressed with them both.
The Black Cats have Grant Leadbitter as an experienced alternative, but he has made just two appearances in the seven-game unbeaten run.
Ethan Robson is back on Wearside and has made a good impression since returning to training, but it’s a position in which the manager is determined to add another option in case of injuries or suspension.
The prospect also remains that Robson could return to Grimsby on loan.
The name most heavily linked with an arrival is Greg Docherty.
Parkinson confirmed last week that he had held ‘initial chats’ with Rangers over a loan move, and Steven Gerrard would confirm the next day that the midfielder would be leaving the club this month.
Reports that a deal was close, however, were premature, with both parties at that stage not having settled on the potential terms of the deal.
That remains the case.
Docherty ticks a lot of boxes in that he is a proven talent at this level, having thrived at Shrewsbury Town last year.
He is versatile, and could easily play as one of the central or attacking midfielders in the current 3-4-3 shape.
The midfielder has plenty of options, however, and would arrive on Wearside with significant competition for his place.
Sunderland have a number of targets for the central midfield position and as it stands, it appears a move for Docherty is unlikely.
It’s understood that the Black Cats are in talks with alternative options and it will be interesting to see what path Parkinson decides to go down.
LIAM BOYCE/ANTOINE SEMENYO
Nigel Clough has been candid in outlining Burton Albion’s stance on Liam Boyce, who is a target for Sunderland as he enters the last six months of his contract.
Burton want to agree a new deal with the Northern Ireland international but if not, they will consider a sale.
Boyce has recently been in superb form as Burton have surged up towards the play-off positions, and that has predictably made a deal harder.
He remains an option for the Black Cats, but with Kyle Lafferty working his way towards match fitness, Parkinson is patient as he looks to add another forward.
Antoine Semenyo is another player who he has confirmed his interest in, but that has been complicated by the situation at his parent club, Bristol City.
The Robins had been keen to bring in Arsenal youngster Eddie Nketiah but Mikel Arteta has opted to keep him at the Emirates.
Bristol City will need reinforcements before they let him go and Doncaster Rovers are also monitoring that situation.
At this stage, they will perhaps be able to offer more regular action given the form of Sunderland’s current frontline.
ONE MORE YOU SHOULD EXPECT…
One position Sunderland will look to strengthen in the next ten days is wing back.
Though his action in terms of senior minutes was limited, the departure of Laurens De Bock left the side short of cover on the left flank.
The position has not been a major priority for Parkinson, with Denver Hume thriving and emerging as one of his key attacking weapons.
He believes Luke O’Nien can operate comfortably on that side, with Conor McLaughlin able to step in on the right.
Lynden Gooch is also capable of operating in that role, as he did with significant success in the early stages of last season.
Clearly, though, he does not wish to alter a formula that is working well and the easiest solution is to add effective cover.
The balance is in doing so without threatening Hume’s immensely heartening development.
McLaughlin has been linked with Blackburn Rovers, who have a long-term vacancy in their goalkeeping ranks with Christian Walton, their current number one, on loan from Wigan Athletic.
Whether they will test Sunderland’s resolve remains to be seen but there has of yet been no bid.
Parkinson would be loathed to lose a player rapidly and decisively recapturing his best form, even with Lee Burge a more than capable deputy.
The Black Cats boss does not expect contract talks to reopen this month, with obvious concerns over his long-term future.
McLaughlin has been clear in stating that he wishes to remain at the club.
He has regularly secured moves at the end of his contract in the past but in a candid recent interview with the Echo, says that he hopes the moment has come where he can put down roots.
How this develops over the coming months remains to be seen but for now, a switch does not seem to be in anyone’s interests.
One of the most complicated situations for Sunderland to settle in the final ten days of the window is that of Grigg.
Parkinson did not rule out a loan exit on Thursday and on Saturday, he was left out of the squad entirely as Kyle Lafferty came onto the bench.
He has fallen considerably down the pecking order but Sunderland do not want to loan him to a League One rival.
Whether League Two clubs have the financial firepower to make a deal happen is the key question, and at the moment, the black Cats boss has been firm in saying that has not happened.
It will also be a big decision for Grigg, who won praise for his attitude and application even as he was left out at MK Dons.AIDEN McGEADY
Sunderland are to to field any bids for McGeady, but believe they will be able to find a destination in the closing stages of the window.
Parkinson is minded to keep the forward, who he has said has been unlucky not to feature more in recent weeks.
He offers a goal threat and versatility across the front line which makes him a good squad option.
He had admitted, however, that further arrivals could force him to revisit that.
McNulty can only be recalled by Reading with Sunderland’s agreement, however. So the power here lies with the Black Cats, even if other clubs are eyeing a swoop.