KADER Mangane was confirmed as Sunderland's second January signing last night, but Martin O'Neill is hoping the defender is not the final player to arrive at the Stadium of Light before the transfer window closes in a fortnight's time.
Mangane has moved from Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal on an initial six-month loan, with a view to a potential £2m permanent transfer in the summer.
Like Alfred N'Diaye, who completed his switch from Bursaspor on Friday, the Senegal international is unavailable for tonight's FA Cup third-round replay against Bolton as he had not signed in time for the original tie at the Reebok Stadium.
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His arrival will bolster O'Neill's centre-half options in the absence of injured duo Carlos Cuellar and Wes Brown, but Sunderland remain light on numbers in a number of other positions.
Phil Bardsley and Danny Rose are the only natural full-backs on the books, while attacking alternatives to Steven Fletcher are limited, and O'Neill is hoping to sign at least two more players before the transfer window closes.
“David Meyler has left to join Hull because he wanted to play first-team football and Ji (Dong-won) has also gone,” said the Sunderland boss. “There was room in the squad anyway before that, but now there's even more space to be filled.
“Even with Mangane coming in to join N'Diaye, we're still just two out and two in. With that in mind, I would still be looking to get some more people in before the end of the month. And I would certainly want more people in before we would even think about letting anyone else out.”
The full-back positions are a priority, with O'Neill admitting it is far from ideal to have to start with Craig Gardner and Jack Colback, who normally play in midfield, at right-back and left-back respectively.
Sunderland are still waiting for Tottenham to confirm that Rose can remain on Wearside for the remainder of the season, and while the extension of the loan deal is little more than a formality, the current situation is clearly far from ideal.
“In time, the full-back areas are definitely something we'd want to look at,” said O'Neill. “Danny Rose has done very well, and he is a specialist full-back, and we're hoping he will be here until the end of the season.
“But you don't really want to be in the position where you're beholden to people and worrying in case something develops or someone leaves you during the course of the season. That is something we might have a look at in the longer term.”
For now, Mangane and N'Diaye are the two players to have moved to Wearside this month, with the former having successfully agreed personal terms and completed a medical over the weekend.
Mangane, who stands at a towering six foot five inches, was born in the Senegalese capital Dakar and moved to Switzerland to join Neuchatel Xamax when he was still a teenager.
He spent six seasons playing in the Swiss league before moving to France to represent Lens and Rennes, for whom he made more than 100 senior appearances.
He joined Saudi Arabian champions Al-Hilal last summer for an undisclosed fee, and will be available to make his debut in Saturday's Premier League trip to Wigan.
“He wants to come and try to prove himself, so we're pleased to have him,” said O'Neill. “It will just add a bit of competition for places. He's a biggish lad and he's pretty competitive. I think he really wants to have a go with us.”