What Jack Ross’ Sunderland targets tell us about the team he wants to build

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Jack Ross has been careful not to overpromise since taking the Sunderland job.

But he has spoken of his desire to build a team that plays with real intensity.

Former Hearts defender Alim Ozturk.

Former Hearts defender Alim Ozturk.

It was one of the reasons the new regime were keen to bring him in, a belief that his footballing philosophy tied in with the wider project of restoring the club to its roots.

It will be a tough challenge, particularly in the short-term.

Continuity is a major advantage in football and both on the pitch and off the pitch, building positive relationships is a task that will take Jack Ross time.

In the transfer market there is a delicate balancing act but in his early moves Ross has set out his stall both for the summer ahead and his tenure as a whole.

Alim Ozturk has already put pen to paper, while advanced talks have been held with Lyle Taylor, Chris Maguire and Dylan McGeouch.

All three of those have numerous suitors and so have a decision to make on their future, but their place on Ross’ shortlist reveal much about his intentions when building the new squad.

Ozturk is a free agent whose career at Hearts frustratingly stagnated, but he is good on the ball and physically capable of surviving in the third tier.

At 25, he has the scope to grow as a player and either improve with Sunderland or secure a profit at some stage.

The same goes with Dylan McGeouch, also 25 and earning rave reviews for his performances north of the border.

Like Ozturk, it would be a low risk deal with a potentially significant reward.

Both of those are players are ones that Ross knows well, while Lyle Taylor and Chris Maguire offer the kind of League One experience Ross has said that he is determined to add.

Maguire has had a tough year at Bury but was highly thought of at Oxford Untied, where Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven of course have a strong interest.

Taylor has a good record in the Football League and Ross was no doubt aware of him after superb spells at Falkirk and Partick Thistle.

Crucially, all four are at an age where they are approaching the peak of their career, experienced but with room to improve.

While the latter three may yet to choose to pursue other options, they offer an insight into the team that Ross wants to build.

Florian Kamberi, for example, was a player identified as one who had the physicality and experience to make an immediate impact, but also grow their value and ability.

While the deals Ross is currently working on are low budget, Kamberi was a player who the new regime were prepared to spend a seven-figure sum on.

Ross is having to work with a significant element of uncertainty as thoe above negotiate the exit of numerous high-earning players, as well as some of the club’s promising youngsters.

It is not an easy climate to work in but Ross is showing there is method and thought in his recruitment plans.

The end goal is a team more dynamic and robust than the one that slumped to relegation last season.

Should the club close the deals then it will be an understated but effective start to the summer business.