After their recent upturn in form and with plenty of sides at the top of League One stumbling, Sunderland will likely be confident of sealing a return to the Championship this season.
January looks set to be a vital month for the Black Cats, as it is Phil Parkinson’s first transfer window in charge at the Stadium of Light.
The Sunderland boss had a very shaky start to his tenure but things have picked up in recent weeks, with his side winning three of their last four and climbing back into the top six.
He will no doubt be keen to add some additional quality and to shape the squad to fit his desired style of play.
Even after the signing of Kyle Lafferty, the Sunderland boss has indicated that bringing in a new striker is his top priority, while if reports are to be believed, the Black Cats have a number of other irons in the fire.
So, if everything goes to plan, what could Leeds’ side look like from February onwards?
Goalkeeper has been a contentious position at the Stadium of Light this season, with both Jon McLaughlin and Lee Burge given their chances between the sticks.
McLaughlin has reclaimed the role in recent months and his performances have helped Sunderland’s recent run–he looks set to be their first choice moving forward.
A back three has worked really well for Sunderland over the festive period–helping them to concede just four goals in six games. Parkinson has used four centre-backs, Tom Flanagan, Alim Ozturk, Jordan Willis, and Joel Lynch, across that period but if all are fit, you’d imagine that Flanagan, Willis, and Lynch would be first choice based on their performances.
Parkinson confirmed earlier today that the North East club have acted on their interest for Rangers midfielder Greg Docherty. The 23-year-old was fantastic on loan at Shrewsbury Town last season, scoring 10 goals and providing 11 assists, and could slot into central midfield nicely, potentially alongside George Dobson.
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In Denver Hume and, particularly, Luke O’Nien, Sunderland have some interesting options at wing-back. Both have been regular fixtures during the recent run of form and Hume, who is just 23, is beginning to look really settled in the first team.
In the forward line, Chris Maguire will continue to be a key man for the Black Cats. The 31-year-old has been sensational this season and by far the League One side’s most dangerous weapon, scoring nine goals and providing five assists.
Sunderland are reportedly battling with Doncaster Rovers to sign Bristol City forward Antoine Semenyo on loan until the end of the season. Semenyo is still quite a raw talent but if Parkinson can get him firing he could be an excellent option for them on the opposite flank from Maguire.
In the centre, Lafferty has already arrived this month and Charlie Wyke looks set as Parkinson’s first choice from his current crop. The Sunderland boss has made it clear he is after another striker and Burton Albion’s Liam Boyce appears to be a target.
An agile forward with an eye for a goal, the 28-year-old has hit double figures for the Brewers and could be an interesting option in the place of Wyke.