SUNDERLAND will target Premier League experience in their rebuilding job this summer after noting the mistakes of 12 months ago.
Only five of the 14 players brought to the Stadium of Light last summer had featured in the English top flight previously, as former director of football Roberto De Fanti predominantly targeted new recruits from the Continent.
Three of those five – Vito Mannone, Ki Sung-Yueng and Fabio Borini – were the only fresh faces to become first-team regulars for Sunderland, with head coach Gus Poyet ultimately opting for the tried and tested.
But with Sunderland facing the prospect of another significant overhaul this summer due to a host of departures, the Black Cats are determined for history not to repeat itself.
Head coach Poyet and technical director Lee Congerton realise that if Sunderland are going to be starting almost from scratch again, they need to look for new signings who are fully versed in the demands of the Premier League.
And that will influence the club’s initial transfer targets, certainly in the early part of the summer.
Marcos Alonso and Borini, who both enjoyed successful loan spells with the Black Cats, fall into that category, with Poyet eager to land the pair on permanent deals, albeit the latter depends on whether Liverpool are willing to sell the Italian forward.
While the incomings this summer may not quite match the 14 who arrived last year, the shopping spree could easily reach double figures again.
With eight players out of contract and five on loan, Poyet has immediately lost the services of a significant chunk of his squad, before he even contemplates offloading those who are not part of his plans.
After Phil Bardsley opted to join Stoke City on a three-year deal this week, Poyet cannot even boast a solitary full-back who is now on the club’s books.
Among those who deals expire next month, only Seb Larsson and Jack Colback have been offered the chance to stay at the club.
But with the midfield pair Larsson and Colback both in demand, Poyet’s options could be even further decimated.
Meanwhile, a Sunderland XI will travel to Sky Bet Conference side Grimsby Town for a pre-season friendly on Tuesday, July 29 (kick-off 7pm).
The game at Blundell Park will see a mix of Sunderland first-teamers and Under-21s take to the field.