Sunderland transfers: What Jack Ross needs before deadline and whether he’ll get them

Sunderland manager Jack Ross.
Sunderland manager Jack Ross.

The loan deadline closes next week and the key question on the lips of Sunderland fans is whether the club will do anymore business?

Jack Ross has stated he would like to bolster his attack before the August 31 deadline but he has also stressed it is a fine balancing act when it comes to building the perfect squad.

Sunderland have added 12 players this summer including strikers Charlie Wyke and Jerome Sinclair. Both are yet to make their competitive debuts due to injury.

Wyke is due back from his knee injury next week, with Watford loanee Sinclair back next month from his hamstring injury.

Josh Maja is in stunning form, hitting four goals in his opening four league starts, easing the pressure up front, while Sunderland are getting goals from other areas of the pitch too.

Chris Maguire, George Honeyman, Lynden Gooch and Max Power all chipping in.

Our Sunderland writers Phil Smith and Richard Mennear debate whether the Black Cats need another striker and which – if any – other areas need strengthening.

Do Sunderland need to sign another striker before loan deadline?

Phil Smith: Jack Ross has been clear that he wants four strikers in his squad and to that end, it would be a disappointment if another one did not arrive before the window shuts.

Nevertheless, it is hard not to think that it would be best for Josh Maja’s development if Ross only had three to play with.

Competition for places will be severe when Charlie Wyke, Aiden McGeady, Jerome Sinclair and Duncan Watmore return.

Maja still has a lot to learn and certainly the outball Wyke and Sinclair will provide should help Sunderland improve as a side and become more robust away from home.

But Maja is learning and improving with every game, not just in his finishing but in his all round play.

His contribution to Sunderland’s third goal at Gillingham was testament to that, winning the ball back with an excellent press before making a determined run at goal, creating the space for Max Power to collect a pass and score.

A new contract for the 19-year-old must be a priority.

It must also be said, however, that Ross has shown this summer that his signings are considered and carefully selected.

If he thinks there is a striker who can help Sunderland, so be it.

Richard Mennear: Yes. I believe Sunderland will need four strikers if they are to achieve their ambition of winning automatic promotion at the first attempt.

Yes, Maja has been in stunning form and yes Wyke and Sinclair are due back from injury soon but Sunderland could do with another option up front.

Chris Maguire has notched two goals in successive games but you wouldn’t consider him an out and out striker. Ross has admitted as much himself.

Maguire is more comfortable in the No.10 role or cutting in from the flanks, his work rate and creativity a real asset for this Sunderland side.

But in terms of strikers, Sunderland could do with adding another. Otherwise Ross will be relying on Maja, Wyke and Sinclair for a really busy, hectic schedule.

What happens if one of those three gets injured again or loses form?

Maja is only 19 and while his form has been superb, perhaps relying on him all season will be a stretch at such a young age.

Yes, Sunderland could strengthen in January but remember Watford have the option of recalling Sinclair from his loan that month.

Sunderland can’t afford another Lewis Grabban scenario.

Sunderland are the biggest club in this division, they should want to make a statement of intent and bring in another striker to give Ross the perfect squad.

Which – if any – other areas do Sunderland need to strengthen?

Phil Smith: Sunderland look in very good shape.

Dylan McGeouch is back in action and will be a crucial player this season.

Reece James slotted seamlessly into Bryan Oviedo’s shoes at Gillingham and Tom Flanagan will be a perfect option for the right-sided slot in Ross’s lopsided 3-5-2.

Lee Cattermole’s excellent contributions also mean that competition in midfield is healthy.

Were Sunderland not to add any new faces elsewhere in the squad then it would not be seen as a major problem.

Ross has, however, suggested in his interest with Ryan Christie that he wants another left-footed attacker in his squad.

That makes sense, with Aiden McGeady, Jerome Sinclair and Chris Maguire all players who want to cut inside from that flank.

All his central midfielders are right-footed, too, so he perhaps would like one more to find the perfect balance to his squad.

That is a luxury rather than a necessity, however, and you suspect that it would very much be dependent on at least two high-earners leaving the club in the coming days.

Richard Mennear: This will likely depend on which players go out the exit door at the Stadium of Light.

Should a club make a late move for Bryan Oviedo, then Reece James fits seamlessly into this Sunderland side but Ross may feel he needs further options at full back.

That would be one area that Sunderland may look to strengthen should Oviedo, one of the club’s highest earners, moves on.

Ross wants to keep him ideally and he hinted after the 4-1 win over Gillingham that when it comes to departures it may just be AWOL duo Didier Ndong and Papy Djilobodji that end up moving on.

Sunderland desperately need to get those two off the books.

There is an argument for another centre-back given Alim Ozturk’s unconvincing start but Ross will want to give him a chance given he put his faith in him in bringing him to the club this summer.

In central midfield, Sunderland are well stocked.

Winger Ryan Christie, of Celtic, is a target as Ross wants to add more balance to his attacking options out wide.

Duncan Watmore and Aiden McGeady will return but how long it takes them to get up to speed remains to be seen.

Another striker would be a big plus, while it wouldn’t be a surprise if Ross added another loan signing out wide.