Sunderland find themselves battling relegation once again, in what has been an utterly miserable season for North East football in the Premier League. The Black Cats have only slightly improved since the appointment of Sam Allardyce, though the recent win over basement side Aston Villa was critically important.
With Big Sam at helm, it’s hard to truly write the Wearside outfit off. A solid group of core players have performed well at times this season, and if you were to back anyone to keep the club afloat, it would be the vastly experienced former West Ham and Bolton boss.
The January window is vitally important to all those connected to the Stadium of Light club. Some astute additions and they could feasibly aim to pull off a great escape once again.
Perhaps those behind the scenes will go for broke and afford Allardyce the funds to carve out a squad worthy of Premier League survival.
If they do, here’s who they should sign.
Despite his Newcastle past, West Ham United forward Andy Carroll has been touted as a potential target this January to reunite with former mentor Allardyce. The 26-year old striker would be a truly wonderful addition to the ranks, no matter how controversial.
Though Jermaine Defoe remains a fine poacher, the frontline on Wearside has been largely ineffective on the whole this term. Fabio Borini and Steven Fletcher do not offer enough on a regular basis and goals have been hard to come by.
Should Carroll be tempted, the England international would more than likely be the focal point of the attack. With Sebastian Larsson, Duncan Watmore and Adam Johnson providing the crosses, the ex-£35m Liverpool man would expect plenty of service in the penalty area.
It’s almost a match made in heaven, if you can forgo the fact he is a Geordie through and through.
Another England international now, in the shape of outcast Tottenham winger Andros Townsend. The jet heeled 24-year old looks set to leave North London this winter after falling out of favour at White Hart Lane, with Sunderland reportedly keen on landing him.
The England star would add a directness to the Black Cats not seen all season. His driven runs would be invaluable on the counter attack, whether it be taking the ball to the byline in order to cross, or shooting from distance.
Proven quality on the wings, making the transition from defence into attack almost seamless, is invaluable in a relegation scrap.
James Collins was the man linked with a move Wearside earlier this season, though the Welshman recently extended his deal with West Ham. However, moving for teammate James Tomkins would be a wise move, should the Hammers be tempted to sell.
The 26-year old can perform admirably at either centre-back or right-back and was one of Allardyce’s most trusted players at Upton Park. A solid defender with a wealth of Premier League experience, the former England under-21 ace is a vast improvement on the current options on the Stadium of Light.
Though it’s unclear as to whether the Irons would be happy to sell, perhaps the lure of being a regular first-teamer in the North East could prove tempting for the player.
Widely expected to join the Black Cats imminently, Sunderland fans can look forward to the arrival of Lamine Kone from Lorient. While there has been some improvement in Younes Kaboul recently, the former Spurs captain has looked clumsy and cumbersome on the whole this season.
Granted, signing defenders from the French league is a risk at times. However, the Ivory Coast international is almost the polar opposite to Kaboul in many ways. He’s an extremely physical defender, robust enough to make it on these shores while retaining a certain degree of pace.
His distribution may not be much to write home about, but paired next to a more experienced centre-back, could form a healthy understanding heading into the business season.
Quite a curveball this one, but Stoke midfielder Stephen Ireland could represent a bargain signing this winter. The Black Cats are crying out for a creative midfielder, someone who knows the Premier League inside out. While Ireland may not be the flashiest of names, his arrival could fix a long running problem in the team.
Too often, the link between midfield and the frontline has been almost non-existent this season. Ola Toivonen has been utilised as the second striker more often than not, and despite his obvious quality, has struggled to get to grips with life in the Premier League.
Ireland has been linked with a move away from the Britannia recently amid their array of attacking stars. Despite his stalling career, the former Man City ace is a fine technician and able to create chances for both himself and his teammates going forward.