Last night’s defeat to North-East rivals Middlesbrough has left Sunderland on the brink of relegation from the Premier League, with David Moyes’ side 12-points adrift of safety with just five fixtures of the season remaining.
With a Sky Bet Championship season on the horizon, Sunderland should be modelling their comeback on Newcastle United, who have secured promotion back to the top-flight at the first attempt.
Sunderland would be wise to stick with the experienced Moyes as manager, following Newcastle’s successful approach with Rafa Benitez 12-months ago.
The Black Cats should also be looking at Newcastle’s promotion-winning squad, identifying players they may be able to lure to the Stadium of Light ahead of next season.
One player who would seriously add to the Sunderland squad is defender Grant Hanley, who has been used sparingly at St James’ Park this season, despite the Magpies paying over £5m to sign the Scottish international last summer.
While Sunderland don’t have the worst defence in the Premier League, they have still conceded 59 goals, and to be successful in the Championship, your defence must be watertight.
Hanley is valued at £3.83m on TransferMarkt, but due to his previous transfer fee and four-years remaining on his contract, Newcastle could demand a higher transfer fee for the defender.
The 25-year old has made just ten appearances in the Championship for Newcastle, with Ciaran Clark, Jamaal Lascelles and more recently Chancel Mbemba all preferred.
Benitez may look to strengthen his defensive options ahead of next season’s Premier League campaign, opening the door for Hanley’s potential departure.
When Hanley has featured in the league this season, the Magpies have only conceded ten goals, with three of those coming in the surprise defeat to Ipswich Town recently.
Hanley has bags of Championship experience, having previously captained Blackburn Rovers, and should Sunderland move for the defender, he could be key to a potential promotion.