January transfer window ins and outs at Sunderland

Posted by Colin Randall

Steven Fletcher is facing a spell on the sidelinesPA PhotosSteven Fletcher is facing a spell on the sideline.

Whom should Sunderland bring in during the January transfer window, and whom should they ship out?

When a club plays in the cold and windy North East of England, being written off as relegation chumps by Christmas makes attracting season-changing talent doubly difficult.

But Sunderland need strengthening in so many positions it is hard to know where to start. At the very least, Gus Poyet needs a quality defender or two, a creative, goal-scoring midfielder, and a striker.

The first signing saw Fiorentina's Spanish left-back Marcos Alonso join on loan. He previously played at Bolton, including several Premier League games, although he has been used sparingly this season in Serie A.

Poyet has also been linked with Liam Bridcutt, a midfielder who impressed him at Brighton. Among defenders mentioned are French side Lorient's Lamine Kone and another Brighton player, Wayne Bridge. Bridge had a short and unremarkable loan spell at Sunderland, and Kone has played in only half Lorient's Ligue 1 games this season; neither acquisition would be a sure-fire crowd-pleaser.

The need for a striker arises from the failure this season of Steven Fletcher or Jozy Altidore to deliver. A year ago, Martin O'Neill put his faith in Swansea's Danny Graham, who could not muster a single goal. With so many clubs competing for goal-scorers, Poyet might have to settle for declining to extend Connor Wickham's loan to Sheffield Wednesday in the hope scoring is something he can do in the Premier League, not just at Championship or junior international level.

But, at the heart of Poyet's thinking might be the question of whether anyone he can lure to Wearside would improve his inherited squad.

It is simple enough to pick players who need to be moved on, perhaps for their own sakes but certainly in the club's interests.

There have been reports that Poyet might be prepared to offload Fletcher. His injuries and dip in form mean Sunderland would struggle to recoup the 10 million pounds paid for him, but a figure close enough to be tempting would free money for acquisitions.

Fans would prefer to see him stay, reinvigorated and adding to the goal scored at Cardiff. And Emanuel Giaccherini, a player with abundant skill and stamina, must be talked out of any desire to return to Serie A to boost his World cup selection prospects.

Among those who ought to go is Craig Gardner, whose reliable penalty-taking is outweighed by sloppy defending, wasteful distribution -- and a tendency to give away more spot kicks than he converts.

David Vaughan has the occasional storming game and has scored cracking goals, as at Newcastle last season, but he is inconsistent.

And, of the 14 players enlisted by Paolo Di Canio under director of football Roberto de Fanti's guidance, several would scarcely be missed. Cabral -- promising when he arrived, but barely seen since -- might as well leave, along with El Hadji Ba, David Moberg-Karlsson and Charis Mavrias.

If it is true, as reported, that the club's owner, Ellis Short, will not make much or any new money available, Poyet might have to listen to offers for Seb Larsson and some of those 14 to perform a delicate balancing act.


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