Lee Johnson prepares Sunderland transfer plans for January – but no ‘open checkbook’

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Lee Johnson says money will be the key consideration in the January transfer window – with no “open checkbook” available to bolster his Sunderland side.

The Black Cats boss has reserved an agenda with sporting director Kristjaan Speakman and recruiting manager Stuart Harvey in the coming weeks as the club ramp up plans for the mid-season window.

Nine new players have arrived over the summer, but Sunderland is looking to add more reinforcements in January.

And talks are scheduled between Johnson, Speakman and Harvey to discuss the budget and where it will be spent.

“When entering the window, the key consideration has to be money,” Johnson said. “What do we have, is there available, do we need to create?” If we sign someone, what is the domino effect?

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“We’ll have to adjust because it’s not an open checkbook, so whatever we have to work on, we’ll have to maximize it – it could be fluid depending on situations that are sometimes beyond our control.

“These conversations [about transfers] are still in progress, but naturally they intensify as you move towards a particular transfer window.

“There are time slots in the agenda to have these discussions. I have my ideas on them and, as always, we’re going to sit around a table, debate them and try to come out the window louder.

“Whether it’s re-signing players, we already have [on new contracts], bringing in new players or allowing young players to go out and gain experience on loan, we will always try to find the balance.

“The important thing is that at the end of each window we came out stronger, and I’ve been happy with that since I’ve been here.”

Sunderland’s strong start to the season means the club should, barring an alarming drop in form, enter the January window looking to recruit players from strong positions to bolster their promotion challenge.

But Johnson is also aware that while the January window opens in just over two months, that period spans 11 league games – just two fewer than Sunderland has played so far.

He said: “You hope [Sunderland would go into the window in a position of strength]. The window isn’t that far away in terms of timing, but it’s far away in terms of gaming, and a lot can happen.

“We’ve seen how quickly a team can be wiped out with a few injuries, but I think we’ve been through this tough little spell relatively unscathed and now we’re starting to recover bodies.”


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