Sam Allardyce: Sunderland's January signings can conquer fatigue factor
New boys Jan Kirchhoff, Lamine Kone and Wahbi Khazri have all made a significant impact on Sunderland’s bid to remain in the Premier League, with the Black Cats a far more convincing proposition since the £15million trio have joined the fold.
But for Khazri and, particularly Kirchhoff, the physical demands stemming from the intensity of English football remain a barrier that they need to conquer.
Both have come off in the latter stages of Sunderland’s last two games when they have been hampered by fatigue and there has been a clear correlation with the Black Cats’ intensity levels dipping.
Allardyce’s men were duly punished by late equalisers at both Southampton and Newcastle, but the Sunderland boss believes the situation is treatable before the end of the season.
“We always knew it would be difficult for players to perform when they have arrived from abroad in January,” said Allardyce.
“Dame (N’Doye) Lamine, Wahbi and Jan have all hit the ground running. Whether that’s for 60 minutes or 70 minutes, they have all done a much better job than I felt they would do.
“I thought if we got two out of the four, that would make a difference to the team and help us.
“To have all four make as big a contribution as they have, and to take them off when they are feeling the pace of the game, is something that we can manage.
“Jan hadn’t played very much for Bayern Munich, but we knew the talent. Now he has to get the pace of the game, and he is doing that brilliantly.
“He got lambasted when I put him on at Tottenham, when really it was my fault, but since then he has shown outstanding qualities playing in a sitting midfield role.
“The rest of the lads can see that these new players are going to help us and that has spurred them on a little bit after the doom and gloom we experienced through Christmas and the New Year.”
Khazri and Kone are slight worries for Allardyce heading into next week’s crunch visit of West Brom after the African pair both withdrew from international duty.
The duo both pulled out of African Cup of Nations qualifiers with Ivory Coast and Tunisia respectively due to knocks picked up in the Tyne-Wear derby.
However, neither are thought to be serious problems and the pair are expected to be available to face the Baggies.