PHIL PARKINSON has been promised new players in January, but Sunderland will have to listen carefully to any interest in a large number of players whose contracts are expiring next year.

Parkinson has endured a difficult opening six weeks in charge of the Black Cats in which he has only enjoyed two victories in the first 11 matches of his tenure.

He has made no secret of talks with the boardroom that have reassured him there will be room for adding to his squad when the window opens in January, and they have already started to look at targets.

The challenge between now and then is for Sunderland to improve their chances of promotion, having dropped down to 11th albeit just three points shy of a play-off spot. The greater challenge is to make up the nine-point gap to the top two, which is what Sunderland targeted in the summer.

Sunderland owner Stewart Donald wants to give Parkinson every chance of succeeding having decided he was the best man to take the club forward after sacking Jack Ross in October.

But the level of investment in the squad come January will be affected by Financial Fair Play rules too, so Sunderland’s chances of securing players to suit the style he has in mind could hinge largely on who departs.

Aside from players such as Marc McNulty and Laurens de Bock whose loans will expire next summer, Sunderland also have plenty whose contracts are due to expire at the end of the season.

That is why Sunderland will have to consider approaches for such men if the offers are right, given they will not be clear on which they want to keep for the longer term and who to offer new deals to given their league position.

Duncan Watmore, whose promising career has been plagued by injuries, is among those whose terms are running down. He remains a player with enormous potential and plenty of talent but he is desperate to recapture that after his awful run of luck in recent years.

Key players Luke O’Nien and Chris Maguire are two who will attract interest from elsewhere and likelier to be wanted on Wearside, and their contracts are expiring too. O’Nien in particular had plenty interest in him last summer and remains well liked by promotion chasers Wycombe.

Beyond that trio Sunderland also know Scotland goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin, who has lost his place recently to Lee Burge, and Northern Ireland defender Tom Flanagan will be free agents next summer.

The contracts of former Hearts defender Alim Ozturk and Swedish Under-21s striker Benji Kimpioka are also up for renewal, and the latter is being courted across Europe by a number of clubs.

Parkinson rates Kimpioka and he could well find himself in the thick of things under him after his recent equaliser against Coventry.

The Swede, confident and talented, has recently got more of a chance under Parkinson and he is toying with the idea of playing him at Gillingham this Saturday when Sunderland are in desperate need of a lift.

Fans turned on Parkinson at the end of the last game when Sunderland lost 2-1 at home to Burton Albion, increasing the frustrations being felt across a club which had eyes of winning the league this season.

After the trip to Gillingham, Sunderland then have two home dates with Blackpool and Bolton before finishing the year at Doncaster on December 29. Then Parkinson is keen for Sunderland to make quick progress on the transfer front.

He hopes to have striker Charlie Wyke back from injury during that period, while it has been claimed that Sunderland’s wealthy director Juan Sartori will be more involved with the club from this month onwards.

it is also understood that former Bolton and Middlesbrough full-back Andrew Taylor has started work at Sunderland as first team coach, as revealed in The Northern Echo last week.

Sunderland are yet to confirm the move but the 33-year-old has signed his terms and is working with the squad before this week's return to action.