SUNDERLAND manager Peter Reid is ready to cast a world-wide net as he tries to establish Sunderland as a top-five Premiership club.

The Wearside boss has just returned from a six-day scouting mission to Argentina, where he checked personally on recommended players, and he revealed yesterday that he is prepared to bring in foreign players if suitable home-grown candidates are not available.

Sunderland take on a cosmopolitan Chelsea side at Stamford Bridge today, and while Reid hinted that he might enlarge his own contingent of foreigners he will always stick to the traditional English style of football.

Reid said: "When you look at Chelsea they have World Cup winner in their team and I class them as one of the big sides in the Premiership. Their record over the last three or four seasons proves that.

"Everyone knows me and I would like a side as British as possible, but everything changes and certainly football changes.

"I have been to Argentina to watch games and I think that shows it is global now.

"I wouldn't have any hesitation, if I can't get the players I want over here to look elsewhere.

"You have got to have an open mind. But I still think you have got to have that ethic of the way a British team plays. You have to make it difficult for people when they have the ball.

"I think we have done that. I have got some lads who have come on board from outside the British Isles but they have that ethic."

He added: "I will always look at the home market first, but the way the game is going now you just have to be open-minded.

"The other way is to bury your head in the sand and you can't see."

While he was in South America Reid watched three games involving teenagers and two senior matches, plus a live game on television.

"We did enough work over there to see five games in three or four days. What I saw was very impressive."

Reid is unlikely to dive in for any major signings. But his hand may be forced over the recurring back injury which rules out Republic of Ireland striker Niall Quinn today.

Reid will replace him with Danny Dichio or once again use Scottish international Don Hutchison in an emergency striking role alongside his 14-goal leading scorer, Kevin Phillips.

Quinn is likely to be rested for a month, and his next outing could be in the Tees-Wear derby at Middlesbrough on April 9.

"It is something we will be montoring week to week and I would not go as far as to say his season is over," stressed Reid.

"At a pinch he would play, but talking to him he still has a problem with his back and we have to give him the rest he deserves."

Reid, however, knows how important Quinn is to the team and believes that he has come in for some rough treatment because his ability is so well known.

He said: "He is an outstanding footballer and I mean it in that sense of the word - football. He has been terrific for us at the club.

"But he has been missing in the past and we have dealt with it and I expect us to deal with it this time."

Reid is looking forward to welcoming back Phillips after the England striker's two-match absence through injury.

He said: "I think his enforced rest could help us in a funny sort of way.

"He is a good footballer and I know he has been frustrated being out of the team. He was particularly disappointed to miss our last home game against Aston Villa.

"I think the little rest he's had could do us the world of good."

Sunderland's latest signing, Patrice Carteron, who has joined on loan from French club St Etienne, goes straight into the squad at Chelsea.

He faces a tussle with the versatile Darren Williams for the right back position.

Sunderland have conceded ten goals in their last two visits to Stamford Bridge and Reid knows his defence will have to be at its best to keep the eager Chelsea forwards at bay.

He said: "We have conceded ten goals in our two previous Premiership games at Chelsea, which was particularly disappointing. This game will give us a yardstick to see how far we have come.

"I have a few options to consider and I won't announce my team until just before the game.