SUNDERLAND Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman says the club are prepared to make tough decisions in the transfer market in the summer with the club identifying areas to strengthen in the weeks following promotion to the Championship.

The Black Cats have been ironing out their transfer plans following their Wembley win against Wycombe Wanderers. The club’s hierarchy have met in the last few weeks to discuss their budget for the transfer window as they look to get a head start in the transfer window. They were due to engage in talks to re-sign Nathan Broadhead and were considering offering Ross Stewart a new contract at the club. While the club are wasting no time in preparing for the new season, their complicated ownership model could cause problems with wantaway shareholders Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven still have holding a large percentage of the club.

With the window officially opening yesterday, they are yet to make any first-team signings ahead of the new Championship season. The club are waiting on contract offers to Lynden Gooch, Patrick Roberts and Bailey Wright whose deals all expire at the end of the month. However, they face competition to keep Gooch at the club with Swansea City set to hold discussions with the American winger.

The club are looking to build a squad capable of consolidating their position in the Championship after last season’s promotion. The club’s sporting director told the media that, based on the performances of the club’s end of season run-in, they have been able to identify which positions they need to add to.

Speakman said: “Our start point is continual improvement so from our very outset from the last 18 months, we’ve been continually driving to get better. We wanted to develop people within the building so we wanted to take players on that journey with us.

“Naturally there is going to be cycles so we’ve got to try and obtain the right balance in the Championship. We got a lot of scrutiny around ‘we didn’t get the balance right in League One, we didn’t have this or that’. I was really calm and on record from January onwards that we felt we had a really good spot.

“Naturally for supporters and fans, you want the best players for every position. You want a depth chart of four players. That is just not possible.

“We have to make tough decisions. That’s what were paid in those positions to do and you have to make discretionary choices about where you have certain strength and where you might spend more money on certain players in certain positions. Thankfully for us, that has been vindicated by the positions and obviously the performances over the last three months and more recently in those play-off games where it is a real pressurised situation.

“We’ve got an understanding right now of where the players are and where we think some of those players can get to and then we will compliment that with new players but you have got to be really careful around your transition period and carrying some of that success with us and then starting to filter and integrate those new players which is exactly what we have done over the last 18 months. It’s not different really.”

Despite promotion from League One last season, business in the transfer window will need to offset with player departures in Sunderland’s case. An eventuality that the club are well equipped for but it won’t result in any reigning of ambitions as they embark on a new season in a new division.

“Naturally, you are going to have a cycle” Speakman continued. “You’re going to lose loan players potentially but we’ve got to align ones that we think can help us in the future but align that to what their football clubs think.

“You’re going to have some players out of contract that you are not going to retain. You’re going to have some players on contracts you want to improve. Over a period of time, not just one transfer window, through the next two, three or four transfer windows, keep developing and improving the squad.

“It’s up to the players in the squad to keep progressing with the football club. Some might out-perform the football club and therefore become saleable assets. But we want to keep pace to make sure they can stay with us.

“It makes perfect sense that you have a cohort of players that understand, can perform and are comfortable with Sunderland but you don’t want the complacency so naturally in a performance environment, you need to make sure you can keep moving the threshold for what’s required like in any successful business. If you’ve got targets to make sales in one year, you don’t make the same targets again the year after. You keep moving it forward.”