Sunderland clearout set to gather pace

Paolo Di Canio is keen to speed up Sunderland's clearout of players in order to raise funds to bring in more new faces

Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio
Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio

With nine players already signed, Sunderland’s focus will switch to sales as they look to make space for yet more new faces.

The Black Cats have almost signed an entire new team, with negotiations ongoing for a number of other players.

However, only Simon Mignolet and Ahmed Elmohamady have been sold so far and coach Paolo Di Canio admits he may be reaching the limit of what he can ask the board for.

He said as Sunderland arrived in Hong Kong for the Asia Trophy. “We know – the board knows – we need something more, but I don’t know if it’s possible at the moment. We have already made good signings and the club has made sacrifices in some ways, they have spent some money.

“So I am happy but it would be better to bring in one or two other players. We will see what happens.”

Sunderland owner Ellis Short is one of the Premier League’s leading advocates of financial fair play and will want to see Di Canio and director of football Roberto Di Fanti at least go some way towards practicing what he preaches as they overhaul the squad.

Mignolet – one of the few Di Canio did not want to sell this summer – joined Liverpool for

£9m, while Elmohamady making his loan spell at Hull City permanent was widely expected and brought in another £2m. Danny Graham followed the Egyptian to East Yorkshire, but only on loan.

Titus Bramble and Matt Kigallon have been released along with a number of youngsters, the most high-profile being Ryan Noble. However, it still has not offset the outlay on incoming players.

Phil Bardsley and Lee Cattermole have been told to find new clubs after Di Canio decided against taking them to South East Asia, where Sunderland play Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday and Manchester City or South China on Saturday.

However, with the exception of the recent additions, nobody in the squad can take his place for granted. There are question marks over at least eight.

David Vaughan is interesting Crystal Palace, Bursaspor are looking at January signing Alfred N’Diaye and Lazio have been credited with an interest in Sebastian Larsson, while there were reports at the weekend of Premier League interest in Craig Gardner.

The versatile Gardner has a year left on his contract and became something of a cult figure with Sunderland fans when he sat with them at last season’s Tyne-Wear derby.

However, the reason Gardner was there was because he was serving the first of two suspensions in the closing week of the season, indiscipline which did not endear him to the new coach. With Napoli striker Lorenzo Insigne’s agent claiming a bid has been lodged for his client, the forward line looks vulnerable too.

Having signed who he recently called “one of the top strikers in Europe” in Jozy Altidore to partner Steven Fletcher, Sunderland are looking to move on Stephane Sessegnon, who has never really settled in the North East, and hope Ji Dong-Won’s form on loan in last season’s Bundesliga leads to a permanent move.

Connor Wickham’s future is also in question after stinging criticism from Di Canio in May.

Asked about another move for a player he took on loan last season, Sheffield Wednesday manager Dave Jones responded: “It is something we would be interested in if it came around, but it is far too early to even contemplate it.”

Di Canio is a big fan of Jack Colback, but the midfielder has rejected a new contract.

Some of those who leave are bound to feel done-by and Noble has expressed his frustration after joining Burnley.

A product of the club’s academy, the 22-year-old striker made only five substitute appearances for his local club in the Premier League.

He said: “I felt I did all I could at Sunderland. I scored a number of goals in the reserves and was working hard in training. I just couldn’t get the break.

“There was a point when there were no fit strikers at the club but I was sat there wondering when my time was going to come. I guess my face didn’t fit.”

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