ALEX NEIL is still hoping to make “four or five” more signings this summer – after admitting Sunderland’s 1-1 draw with Coventry City highlighted the need to strengthen the current squad.

The Black Cats drew their opening game back in the Championship, with a fine late strike from Coventry striker Viktor Gyokeres cancelling out an early headed opener from Jack Clarke.

As well as boasting Gyokeres, a £10m-rated Sweden international, Coventry boss Mark Robins was also able to introduce four seasoned performers from the bench in the second half as his changes altered the course of the game.

Neil’s options, particularly in attack, were much more limited, and while the Sunderland boss completed the loan signing of Ellis Simms on Friday, with the youngster signing a season-long deal from Everton, he continues to pursue further additions.

“We’ve still got four, potentially five, that we want to bring in before the window ends,” said Neil. “We need to make sure the squad is competitive and not only that, they brought four or five really fresh lads on who know the level, and that can really make a difference.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do in the window in terms of strengthening the squad. I would argue we’re still under-strength at the moment. We lost seven players after last year, and we’ve added three, maybe four. We’ve certainly still got numbers to add to make us stronger.”

Neil was happy with his players’ performance as Sunderland returned to the second tier after a four-year absence, but felt it was clear to see the difference between playing in the Championship and life in League One.

“I think what you could see is that it was a step up in intensity,” he said. “I thought towards the end of the game, our lads were dead on their feet, it really is difficult. Normally, we score a goal in League One, the opposition gets a bit scared and they sink back into their shape. We control the ball and it's basically a case of when will the next goal come.

“At this level, Coventry came here thinking, 'We're better than Sunderland and we have better players, we're coming to win’. The intensity was one of the big learning curves for the lads in terms of what it's going to take to play at this level. They're going to have to play for 96 minutes plus, every single week. There's not going to be a minute off.”