Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sunderland Manager Expects Busy Start to NewYear

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sunderland Manager Expects Busy Start to NewYear

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve Brown steve.sports-brown@trinitymirror.com

STRENGTHENING Sunderland's "core" is top of Sam Allardyce's Santa list.

The Black Cats have had a rotten season so far, and Allardyce aims to improve matters by adding at least two new recruits when the transfer window opens on January 1. With former sporting director Lee Congerton now on 'gardening leave', that recruitment process is in the hands of Allardyce, chief scout Steve Houston and head of performance Mark Taylor. The trio remain in constant communication, with other scouts and agents also, and should opportunities arise, Allardyce means to do business ASAP.

Asked if Congerton's departure has left more on his own plate, Allardyce said: "Not really, no.

"I think that Steve is in place and has the database intact, so we just communicate on a regular basis on availability. It's about what the scouts can hear on the grapevine, keeping their ears to the ground and finding out what the whispers are saying.

"Then we try and react to that. Of course, you've got to listen to every agent that's got a player! It's a factor now, they can unearth you a player that you might not have thought would come to Sunderland.

"If they can do that, you try and do that business with the agent as quickly as you can."

Allardyce didn't force his players to train on Christmas Day, trusting them not to over-indulge before traveling to Manchester - for today's Premier League clash at City - last night.

Sunderland will be without Younes Kaboul, but the Frenchman's hamstring injury has not inflated the need for a new centre-back.

"I still think we wanted one anyway," said Allardyce. "Especially as, you know, sometimes we may play as a back three, sometimes we might not.

"If you're going to strengthen anywhere, it's always going to be the core of your team first and then go on the outside after that.

"Who might leave? Who knows? Some of the players, if they're not playing as much as they want, might come and say 'I'm not happy with that', so does somebody else want them? …

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