Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill has sights set on double striker swoop

LOOKING AHEAD ... Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill.
LOOKING AHEAD ... Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill.

MARTIN O’Neill says he is looking forward to reshaping his squad this summer, with the search for strikers top of his shopping list.

The Sunderland boss has taken stock of the squad he inherited from Steve Bruce in December and will allow some players to leave, while at the same time bringing others in.

But his main priority will be to recruit forwards who are more prolific than any he can currently call on.

“I have a fairly decent idea of what I want,” he said.

“Myself and Ellis Short will have a conversation about that in the not too distant future.

“There is no doubt we are getting down to some serious work in the future.

“We need at least two players getting well into double figures.

“Have I made serious inroads? No, I have not.”

After five months at the helm, O’Neill feels that there is not much more he can learn about his current squad of players in the remaining couple of matches, against Fulham this weekend and Man United next.

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“I have a good idea of the abilities of the players who have played regularly for me,” he agreed.

“The last two games won’t make a massive difference to my thinking.

“But contracts are not up for all players so pre-season becomes important for some of them and it could be a chance for them to play a bigger part.”

Among the players who could be leaving in the summer are £9m goalkeeper Craig Gordon, on a Bosman free transfer, and long-serving Kieran Richardson, who is out of contract next summer.

But O’Neill won’t be drawn into writing the Sunderland obituaries of either player just yet – aware of the quality of both, and impressed with Gordon’s return to first-team action last weekend.