ALFRED N'DIAYE'S move might have increased the competition facing Jack Colback to play in the Sunderland midfield, but the homegrown talent thinks this week's arrival is just what was needed on Wearside.

The Black Cats' spending this month is unlikely to stop at the £3.5m acquisition of the Bursaspor middle-man, although there is a feeling Martin O'Neill has got off to a decent start in his dealings.

N'Diaye has trained the last few days with the Sunderland squad and, although he does not speak much English, his feet have done much of the talking on the training ground.

Loading article content

"Alfred has trained and has looked good," said Colback. "He is a big lad, is a big physical threat and that's only something that will help us in the games ahead. He looks a good player.

"He is a bit different to what we have got already. If you look at most teams in the Premier League, they have that sort of player. He is a big physical threat and a lot of teams do well by using that sort of player.

"I don't think that's all he has got. When he trained with us he looked very comfortable on the ball, very good on the ball. That's a good sign for us."

N'Diaye is likely to go straight in to the starting line-up against West Ham United this afternoon provided he has got clearance in time, with the battle on to partner him in the middle of the pitch.

Colback, who is likely to play left-back with Danny Rose ruled out through injury, is competing with Craig Gardner, Seb Larsson and David Vaughan for that role - and the youngest of that quartet thinks he could strike a good understanding with the new boy.

"I didn't take French at school, I took cookery instead, so I might have to learn how to shout 'pass it' in French. When he swears at me I probably won't understand it," said Colback.

"I don't think I will have to adapt my game to play with him, you just play your own game. The more I train with him, the more I will get to know how he plays and how I can play with him. The most important thing is to concentrate on my own game and take it from there."

N'Diaye, 22, a former French Under-21 international from his time with Nancy before moving to Turkey is unlikely to be the last of the new recruits during the January transfer window.

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill is also working on a new defender and striker, having concluded from the opening five months of the season that his squad is not deep enough to cope with injuries.

Colback said: "When you have got a small squad like ours, which has been highlighted, and when you have a lot of games in a short space of time, like we had over Christmas, and you pick up a few knocks, you start to look really bare.

"It looks like the manager has been told he can bring players in, where he sees fit. With N'Diaye coming in it is only going to be good for us.

"It's great for the fans when anyone comes in, a new signing is exciting, it gives the players a lift too that there are more numbers and more competition for places. As players it makes us stay on our toes."

Despite a much-needed two wins in a row over Christmas, Sunderland lost their two Premier League fixtures before last weekend's FA Cup third round draw at Bolton.

Now, as well as Tuesday's replay with Bolton, Sunderland know the importance of staying clear of the bottom three during a run of games against West Ham, Wigan, Swansea and Reading - identifying the top ten as a realistic target.

Colback said: "We are going in to this part of the season positive. The first half of the season everyone knows did not go to plan. We didn't pick up enough wins and the players, fans all know that.

"If we can get a run going, we have a run of games now where we can go in to looking to win. If we can get a few wins then things can quickly turn around. We think wee can mount a challenge to finish in the top half.

"We need to focus on West Ham and getting a win there. We need to kick-start things. Confidence comes massively when you are winning games - and that's the mindset we have to have going in to the next four matches."