Sunderland boss O’Neill to shop in transfer market

WANTED MAN? Republic of Ireland's Keith Andrews
WANTED MAN? Republic of Ireland's Keith Andrews

MARTIN O’Neill is now officially back behind his desk at the Stadium of Light and ready to push forward with transfer plans.

The Black Cats boss returned to Sunderland earlier this week after holidays which followed an intensive six months saving the floundering Black Cats from the danger of relegation.

And, refreshed from the break, he will now look to step up efforts to bring in new players ahead of a 2012/13 season in which a top 10 finish has been targeted by the club.

The manager warned at the end of last season that he did not expect any immediate influx of players, saying that the only players being prioritised would be those available immediately on Bosman free transfers.

But so far there have been no new signings at the Stadium of Light and the signs are that none will come through the door before the end of this month.

The Black Cats have also been strongly linked with Republic of Ireland winger Aiden McGeady, Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor and Wolves forward Steven Fletcher, while West Brom’s Irish international Keith Andrews, available on a Bosman, and Senegal striker Ibrahima Balde were both mentioned today.

But even though the Sunderland manager is now back behind his desk full time, fans are likely to have to wait for a few more weeks before welcoming new faces.

The manager appreciates their eagerness to see new arrivals but hopes they will be patient as he plots his moves in his first significant transfer window with the club.

“We will all come back ready and refreshed for pre-season,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to it and I’m hoping we can do something.

“I think the supporters have got a fair idea of what we need to try to build the team.”

SEE Friday’s Hartlepool Mail for full story