Sunderland to strengthen despite six new faces

Sunderland manager Gus Poyet during the pre-season friendly at Heritage Park, Bishop Auckland
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet during the pre-season friendly at Heritage Park, Bishop Auckland

GUS POYET says Sunderland still need to strengthen in several areas, despite taking their summer recruitment haul to six fresh faces.

Defender Santiago Vergini’s return to the Stadium of Light was confirmed prior to last night friendly against Real Betis, with the Argentine defender completing 45 minutes of the 2-0 victory.

The 26-year-old, who arrives on a season-long loan, follows £10million Jack Rodwell in signing for Sunderland this week, yet the Black Cats are still short in several areas after the loss of 12 players at the end of last season.

Fabio Borini remains Sunderland’s main target, three weeks after Liverpool accepted a £14m bid for last season’s loanee.

But Poyet is well aware that Sunderland need to look further than just Borini to reach his desired squad number of 23 players.

One of those could be highly-rated Manchester City midfielder Bruno Zuculini, who joined the Premier League champions from Argentine outfit Racing Club earlier this summer, with Sunderland last night heavily linked with a loan move for the 21-year-old.

Poyet said: “It’s not all about Fabio Borini, with respect to Fabio.

“We still need a few more players.

“It is difficult to put a time on it, but we’re working hard and trying our best.

“We’re working very hard in getting the rest of the players we need, which are important as well.

“Sometimes managers ask for a position and you get 100,000 right-backs.

“I’m asking for a specific one, where there will be less (available).

“We’re getting close.

“The problem is days go past and of course, everybody is looking at the quantity and quality.

“My (squad) number is 23. I think that will be enough, if we are lucky with suspensions, and then have three or four youngsters in or out with us.”

The paperwork for Vergini’s move was completed just prior to kick-off last night after Sunderland had spent the summer looking to re-sign the versatile defender.

Vergini impressed during the relegation run-in last season after arriving on loan in the January window and the Argentine international insists he is glad to return to Wearside.

“Firstly I’m very thankful to the club for giving me this opportunity,” said Vergini.

“I am very happy to be here once again. I’m also very happy to see so many recognisable faces.

“The challenge for me is to become part of this team and offer all I can so we have a good season.

“The feeling that I’ve had here at this club has been very good. It’s a big club.”