There is now just one week to go before the League One season begins and for Sunderland there is still a lot of work to be done between now and when the transfer window slams shut on August 31.
Many expected the Black Cats to be incredibly active in terms of the amount of players they would bring in and also transfer fees spent thanks to the takeover from young Swiss tycoon Kyril Louis-Dreyfus.
As it stands, just three players have arrived for the senior squad, those being 17-year-old Manchester City defender Callum Doyle and experienced midfielders Corry Evans and Alex Pritchard, whilst a whole host of players have departed including Charlie Wyke, Max Power, Chris Maguire and Josh Scowen.
Quiz: What was the score the last time Sunderland played at each of these 24 stadiums?
Even though the likes of Elliot Embleton and Dan Neil will no doubt get game-time due to their impressive pre-season campaigns, more strengthening is needed and there’s also injury issues to address ahead of the season opener against Wigan Athletic on August 7, with a trio of key players all carrying knocks.
Goalkeeper Lee Burge jarred his elbow in training, new signing Evans was withdrawn from last night’s friendly with Hull City at half-time after picking up a problem and Aiden McGeady missed out after needing an injection in his knee for tendonitis.
According to Sunderland assistant coach Jamie McAllister though (via the Sunderland Echo), all three should be fit for the game against the Latics which will be in-front of a packed-out Stadium of Light.
With Burge, Evans and McGeady set to be fit to face a potential promotion rival on the opening day of the season, it is a big boost for Sunderland whose fans are perhaps a tad frustrated at their lack of transfer business despite going pre-season unbeaten.
There’s clearly still big holes in the squad to be addressed but the fact that the aforementioned trio will likely have gotten over their setbacks ahead of Saturday is a good sign – especially McGeady who was incredibly influential last season and they’ll need the Irishman to turn on his magic again.
It may come too soon for Alex Pritchard who has had a stop-start pre-season due to COVID-19, but Evans, Burge and McGeady all being fit would be a welcome relief as with the lack of squad depth they currently have, Sunderland cannot afford to have an injury list starting to grow before the season even begins.