Sunderland have begun the new year in superb fashion under Lee Johnson, with the former Bristol City boss having led his side up to sixth in the League One standings as they slowly get their promotion bid back on track.
With only a handful of defeats to his name and increased level of goalscoring output having come through in his side since taking on the job in December, Johnson will no doubt be feeling positive about what the future holds for he and his team at the Stadium of Light.
The prospect of the clubs impending takeover by Kyril Louis-Dreyfus also continues to spread optimism around Wearside as many hope for a return of the good times as the Black Cats aim to return to the Championship as soon as possible.
Quiz: Did these 15 former Sunderland players leave for a higher or lower fee than they arrived for?
Here, we take a look at all the latest news that is swirling around the club from the North East.
Takeover update emerges
According to reliable football journalist Alan Nixon on Twitter, the impending deal for Louis-Dreyfus to take over at the Stadium of Light is still in the hands of the EFL.
The young Frenchman has been seen at the club’s games in recent weeks, only heightening speculation that a deal could soon be announced.
Another year in League One simply won’t do for the club’s expectant fan base and for that matter many will be confident that this new ownership structure could take them back to where they once were – the Premier League.
The Athletic previously reported that the deal could be struck last Friday however it now appears that it is more likely to be given the green light at some stage this week.
Selection headache ahead of Lincoln City clash
As reported by Chronicle Live, Johnson faces something of a selection headache ahead of his side’s Papa John’s Trophy semi-final tie against Lincoln City, with the club having only one fit centre back available for tomorrow’s night’s home clash.
Tom Flanagan, Abernit Xhemajli and Jordan Willis are all injured, whilst Dion Sanderson is also cup-tied for the match on Wednesday evening, leaving the Black Cats with only Bailey Wright as their only available central defensive option.
Speaking to the press ahead of the game, the Sunderland boss had this to say on the situation:
“We have got a lot of centre-halves out so ideally I would like to rest Bailey Wright for example – which won’t be possible in this game.
“At the same time I’d like to blood a couple of the young lads but I can’t do that in this game. It is a semi-final of the competition and it’s one we really want to do well in.
“I’ve been calling Charlie Wyke JT all week because we’ve only got one fit and available centre-half in Bailey Wright.”
Whilst the ex-Oldham Athletic boss also offered a solution to how his side plans to deal with the lack of numbers at the back:
“Luke O’Nien has played at centre-half before. You’ve got [Conor] McLaughlin that could step inside one.
“I’ve always wanted to get a team of centre-midfielders out anyway because I think they’re generally pretty good at everything.
“I’m biased because I was one.”
Aiden McGeady discusses his Sunderland future
Speaking recently to the Shields Gazette, winger Aiden McGeady was quick to offer his thoughts on his long-term future with the club as his current contract continues to run down towards it’s conclusion in June.
The Irishman has been given a new lease of life under Johnson and was in fine form at the weekend as he laid on four assists for Charlie Wyke in the club’s demolition of their fellow play-off chasers Doncaster Rovers.
“It’s not up to me.
“The manager has mentioned to me that he sees that I’ve got two or three years left in me at this level or higher. I was playing last season in the Championship for Charlton and I’m not saying I ripped it up. but I felt I could still play there myself.
“My hope is to just carry on playing for Sunderland as long as I can. When I signed that extension over a year ago I could have left, but I like it here. I could have left in the summer, I probably should have left in the summer, but I thought the way things were going it was best to stick around, if you know what I mean.”
In fine form of late, the 34-year-old has now racked up four goals and eight assists for the Black Cats this term.
Salary cap put paid to proposed striker transfer
The Blackpool Gazette reported that Sunderland’s proposed move for former Blackpool striker Armand Gnanduillet fell through in January due to the implementation of a salary cap on League One which was enforced last summer.
After receiving widespread opposition from the PFA, the cap has now been scrapped however it will certainly be seen as too little, too late by those at the Stadium of Light, with the restrictions having out paid to their move for the Ivorian striker who eventually went on to sign for Hearts in the Scottish second division instead.
Gnanduillet previously finished as Blackpool’s top scorer last term with 18 goals before rejecting the offer of a new contract at Bloomfield Road in pursuit of a move to the Championship.
Ultimately such a move never came to fruition and the towering striker ended up plucking for a move to Turkey in order to link up with Altay SK.