What to expect (or not expect) from Sunderland on deadline day & the key positions to address

In spelling out the challenges Sunderland are facing in the transfer market, Phil Parkinson hardly set the scene for a grand finale on deadline day.
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Sunderland, without a doubt, are two players short of the depth that all managers crave.

At centre-back and left-back, they are lacking cover for their established options and given the punishing schedule ahead, it's undoubtedly a cause for concern.

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In his latest zoom press conference, Parkinson looked to pre-empt the fear that would follow a deadline day without an addition.

Sunderland would be willing to offload Aiden McGeady on deadline daySunderland would be willing to offload Aiden McGeady on deadline day
Sunderland would be willing to offload Aiden McGeady on deadline day

He has versatile players who can cover those areas in the short-term, he said, and there is also the free agent market to consider.

This is a larger pool of players than usual, given the tumultuous summer in which the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the new salary cap rules have been obvious.

Indeed, Parkinson went as far as to suggest that as things stood, an addition of this nature next week appeared the likeliest outcome.

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A key reason for that is Sunderland (as well as the rest of Leagues One and Two) hope they may by then have a greater idea of just what financial support is going to be passed down the pyramid by the Premier League.

Parkinson, though, was careful not to rule out entirely the prospect of a new arrival on Friday.

In essence, there are four main areas where there is the possibility of some movement, even if right now it seems slim.

Let's take look at each one in turn...


The best-case scenario for Sunderland on deadline day is the arrival of an established centre-half, who can not only offer competition for Parkinson's preferred trio, but potentially raise the standard over a period of time.

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There are options that Parkinson has had since the start of the summer and the recent injury woes.

Their availability is not a problem in itself, as they are not heavily involved at their current clubs and could therefore be tempted into a short-term move.

The issue, as Parkinson outlined on Thursday, is that their earnings can only be partially covered by Sunderland, who have limited funds left in terms of the salary cap.

The clubs in question are thus far taking the view that given the sums involved, it makes sense to keep their squad together.

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After all, the schedule is challenging and who is to say when a player currently out of favour might be needed?

The availability of Sunderland's defenders this weekend, after such a settled start to the campaign, serves as a somewhat ironic case in point. The window opens again in ten weeks, and so any player who stays is hardly cast into the wilderness.

There is, of course, the slim chance that this situation could change.

The parent clubs may yet have a change of heart, or further strengthen themselves and push the players in question even further down the pecking order.

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Generally, though, it is easy to see why Parkinson is now surveying the market for free agents who have the quality to realistically offer him the cover he needs.


Parkinson's press conference on Thursday realised the fear that Sunderland supporters have held for some time.

Further competition and cover on the left of defence was high on the transfer agenda long before the serious injuries suffered by Arbenit Xhemajli and Morgan Feeney.

Denver Hume's knee injury leaves the Black Cats with no natural, senior player to fill a position that is central to Parkinson's attacking strategy.

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Thankfully, Hume's injury is not thought to be serious and he is expected to be in action sooner rather than later, even if Saturday's game at Swindon Town comes too soon.

Yet it's a scare that underlines the problems that would emerge if it were to happen again.

Parkinson came close to solving the puzzle around a fortnight ago, but was left cautious after the results of the physical assessment tests of a target who visited the Academy of Light.

That deal went 'on the back burner', and so it follows that it could be revisited if there is no arrival on deadline day.

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It's a position that has rightly baffled supporters, given that the club has essentially failed to replace Reece James, who left the club well over a year ago.

Parkinson suggested on Thursday that centre-back is now his ultimate priority, though it is clear he ideally wants both.

Time will tell whether circumstances allow for that.


Many fans are keen for the club to strengthen the forward line before 5pm.

It's an understandable concern, when finishing has been the main problem thus far and there is a lack of pace in the current options.

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Parkinson did not rule it out entirely, but there has been nothing in recent weeks to suggest he sees it is a priority.

He has regularly backed his current options and it is clear he has real expectations for Danny Graham as his match fitness builds.

Will Grigg and Charlie Wyke have struggled for form but are significant earners at this level and in the current climate, adding more options in that part of the pitch seems unlikely.

Parkinson has inferred that the players potentially on loan are not clearly of a superior standard to what he has, and so he cannot offer them the assurances they would like when it comes to gametime.


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As it stands, Sunderland have had no suitors for Aiden McGeady.

Last January, Parkinson said throughout that he expected a team to swoop in the latter stages of the window and that proved to be the case.

This time, there have been no such remarks and Parkinson suspects the financial climate he is battling against himself will make it hard for McGeady to find a new club.

Clubs, though, can change their plans quickly in the dying embers of the window.