THE acquisition of Alex Pritchard for Sunderland is welcome boost to Lee Johnson but the Black Cats boss says he's trying to operate in a difficult market. 

Sunderland's budget has been stretched even further this season upon the horizon of a fourth successive campaign in League One. 

Pritchard was a free agent following his release from Championship side Huddersfield Town which is a part of the market that Johnson and his recruitment staff are looking to explore. 

While the start of the season is less than a month away, Sunderland fans may be getting restless at the considered lack of transfer activity. Luke O'Nien and Aiden McGeady has tied themselves down to new contracts, the club await news on Denver Hume while Charlie Wyke has decided to move to Wigan Athletic. 

Football clubs have also been hugely affected by the events of last 18 months with the COVID pandemic forcing sides to be much more economical. 

As Saturday 7th August fast approaches, Johnson has called for understanding over the market they are operating in.

“I think to educate the fans without being condescending, at the moment you’re in a position where a lot of clubs are, internally, really assessing where they stand for their long term future on the back of COVID.

“They’ve taken loans out, they’ve got to pay them back. A load of clubs are in embargoes or soft embargoes which is stagnating the market a little bit because it means you can’t do one in, one out.

“I told you about the agents. They see a lot of their free agents as the golden goose laying the golden egg and actually it’s not true because the first thing clubs want to try and save on is agents fees because that’s what goes straight out the game.

“I think as a coach, the perfect scenario would be that on 1st July, you’ve got your squad and you have to absolutely get them ready. As a team, bond them.

"Unfortunately we haven’t got that luxury so we’ve got to be super smart with that work that we do.

“We’ve got to be frugal in terms of making sure we stretch our budget as much as possible and then obviously you’ve got to make good decisions.

“That includes the character of the individual and some we’ve gone into such depths of that character and some may be perceived as not the best characters in the world but actually, we believe they are misunderstood.

“I think McGeady is a good example of that. Re-signing McGeady is setting our culture in one sense and therefore he has a responsibility to perform and to lead like he has done so far under me."

Sunderland's next pre-season friendly is away to National League North side York City on Wednesday 21st July.