Ahead of the Premier League clash with AFC Bournemouth this weekend, Sam Allardyce has warned his Sunderland players they will soon be facing stiff competition for places.
Allardyce has offloaded goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon to Watford and Danny Graham to Blackburn Rovers in the past week, while drafting in centre-back Jan Kirchhoff and forward Dame N’Doye, but the Black Cats boss has not finished with his January spending.
In fact, Allardyce has revealed he still wants to recruit a third-string keeper, another defender and a further striker before the February 1 deadline.
“Costel has gone on a permanent basis and Danny has gone on loan until the end of the season, which is effectively until the end of his contract,” he said in a press conference ahead of the clash with the Cherries on Saturday.
“That does clear up wages for new players, which is very important with the Financial Fair Play today
“We’ve already got two in and we are obviously pushing for two more outfield players if we can.”
After recently beating relegation rivals Swansea City and Aston Villa, Allardyce wants to see the same strength of character from his players when Bournemouth arrive in the north east.
“Our big-game mentality will come into play again when we face Bournemouth; it was like that against Aston Villa and Swansea City so we hope we can keep that mentality going,” Allardyce told the club’s website.
“When we’ve needed that result we’ve pulled it off and we certainly need that next week against a team that is in and around us.”
Allardyce will have to contend without Younes Kaboul, who is out with a hamstring problem, while Sebastian Larsson is a doubt with a knee injury.
Meanwhile, Bournemouth fans could soon see a tweak of system following the arrivals of two new attacking options at the club, but boss Eddie Howe will not be making wholesale alterations this weekend.
Benik Afobe joined from Wolves and Lewis Grabban was re-signed from Norwich City, the former netting in the 3-0 victory over the Canaries last time out before being replaced late on with a knock to the knee.
“One of the reasons behind us bringing in the front players was to try and get that versatility and have different ways of playing,” Howe told the Daily Echo.
“I think we have done really well with the 4-5-1/4-3-3 system. It made us a little bit more solid and gave us the platform to build into games and build our confidence.
“We may become a bit more expansive in time but we will see how things go in the next few games before making any radical changes to the system.”
Matt Ritchie and Grabban could return to the Bournemouth squad after missing the Norwich game due to a dead leg and illness respectively, while Tokelo Rantie and Josh King (knocks) are doubts.
Key Opta stats:
– Sunderland have lost just one of the seven meetings with AFC Bournemouth in all competitions (W4 D2 L1), but that came earlier this season on the south coast.
– The Black Cats have won three of the six Barclays Premier League home games played under Sam Allardyce. They won just three of the previous 19 before his arrival.
– The Cherries have lost just one of their last five Premier League games on the road (W2 D2 L1).
– Jermain Defoe has scored more Premier League goals in 2016 than any other player so far (5), while Adam Johnson has twice as many assists in the Premier League in 2016 (4) than any other player.