MARTIN O’Neill has dropped a huge hint Sunderland will look to strike a deal for former Everton midfielder Tim Cahill after admitting he is open to short-term loan deals this January.
The Black Cats boss admits he is not in a position to strike any quick deals this month but he is in the market for players – with the emphasis clearly on the plural.
Anyone he spends money on, though, will have to be a player with the potential to improve and offer Sunderland value for money in the long-term.
O’Neill allowed striker Ji Dong-Won to join Augsburg on loan yesterday and has accepted a £1.5million bid from Hull for midfielder David Meyler. However, it is incomings Black Cats fans will be most interested in.
Cahill, who is 33 and moved to the New York Red Bulls in the summer, does not offer a long-term fix for Sunderland.
However, he would be a major boost to O’Neill’s midfield options in the short-term. The Wearsiders have held productive talks with the MLS club.
Cahill is apparently keen on a deal which would extend until February before the player returned to America for the start of a new season across the Atlantic. Such a deal is a situation the Black Cats boss would be happy to facilitate.
He said: “There are two things to it.
“One, if you felt a player was coming here who was going to be of value early but also can take the club along and improve the club I don’t mind doing it. That I don’t mind.
“I did that at Villa with Ashley Young and John Carew and may be there will be other short-term loans which would bolster us immediately.
“If you are going to pay money for players, and I say players, that was not a slip, if that was the case they would improve the team immediately but also for foreseeable future.
“We are all looking to do deals but I would not say everything is ready to move the minute January 1 falls.”
Whatever happens, O’Neill does not anticipate a repeat of last January when Sunderland were not keen to be involved in any business.
To be fair, it was a unique situation for the Black Cats, who had only just appointed O’Neill and picked up four victories in five games to ease their relegation worries significantly by the time the window swung open.
There was also the question of depressed expectations, with O’Neill’s target in January simply to maintain the club’s Premier League status.
He added: “Couple of reasons. Number one we gained two of results we might not have expected to get.
“We beat Manchester City and Wigan then lost to Chelsea and followed that up with wins against Swansea and Norwich which gave us some points.
“That was OK, then gave me the opportunity to have a look at every player in the squad.
“It had been the same team and the chairman asked me when I came in if we could stay in the division he would be satisfied.
“That gave me the opportunity to look at the squad and I was looking at maybe bolstering the attack, then we suffered a few injuries with the centre-backs so defence was more of a priority.
“This time now we would need to try and improve our strength and depth.”