SUNDERLAND'S new sporting director Lee Congerton has revealed that the club will prioritise the purchase of British players during his time on Wearside.

In a marked change to the previous recruitment regime under former director of football Roberto De Fanti, Congerton will push for more British signings this summer - although he accepts the prices in the domestic market might prove prohibitive.

Speaking in the match programme ahead of tonight's game between Sunderland and West Ham, Congerton said: "Ultimately we want British players, but they cost a lot more money so we need to be smart in the market place and do our research thoroughly."

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Sunderland signed 14 players last summer, with the vast majority coming from overseas. A handful have proved a success, but the likes of Modibo Diakite (who has subsequently left on loan), Valentin Roberge, El-Hadji Ba and David-Moberg Karlsson (who is also away on loan) have hardly been seen since arriving at the Stadium of Light.

Congerton boasts extensive experience in both England and Germany, and feels that overseas players need at least six months to settle when they switch country.

As a result, he would rather purchase talented foreign teenagers and give them a lengthy bedding-in period rather than buy overseas players intended to go straight into the first team.

He said: "When you bring in a foreign player you've got to appreciate the difficulties off the field and the patience needed.

"It helps if they've already played in the league. I look at Fabio Borini who I think has been a success this year.

"He's a foreign player, but he's been established in this country since he was around 15 or 16 years of age. I think that's a market you have to look at quite carefully."

Sunderland's summer recruitment policy will be dictated by whether or not the club avoids relegation in the remaining six weeks of the season.

Provided the Black Cats retain their Premier League status, Congerton intends to hold a two-day series of meetings with Poyet and the rest of the scouting team to discuss potential targets and refine the club's transfer ambitions.

He said: "I've not really known Gus. Obviously I've seen his Brighton team play before and he does, in my opinion, play football the right way.

"We want players who can play that way. There will be a scouts meeting where over two days we'll discuss with Gus the types of players we are looking for.

"I'll then be assessing which potential targets are realistic and also assessing our loan players because at the end of the day, they are our players."