SUNDERLAND'S planning for the January transfer window is well underway, with the club's recruitment and coaching staff working together to assess the areas the Black Cats are looking to strengthen and identifying potential targets.

Head coach Tony Mowbray says the recruitment team - led by Stuart Harvey - has travelled around the world on scouting missions in recent months and assembled a "long list" of potential targets.

Mowbray hasn't yet seen the names of the players who could be on the club's January wishlist but that's normal. He says over the coming weeks he'll join his coaches, the recruitment staff and sporting director Kristjaan Speakman in studying footage of the players identified before a joint final decision is made on concrete targets ahead of the window opening in the new year.

Mowbray admits Sunderland have already discussed the possibility of targeting another striker but the centre-forwards already on the club's books - goalless so far this season - will all have the opportunity to show between now and January that the Black Cats don't need to strengthen their forward line, says the head coach.

"I haven't made any recommendations, but we've done player audits: what do we need, where do we think we are, where are we strong? You can never stand still in football," said Mowbray.

"We've talked about the striker position, these lads have a brilliant opportunity. If they're not scoring a goal and they've all played 10, 15 games each and no goals then something is wrong and we need to address it. But that's every position. If the centre-halves can't keep a clean sheet, if the goalie keeps throwing the ball in his own net, that's what you do constantly, you have to keep moving forward.

"I know the recruitment department led by Stuart are working extraordinarily hard, they've travelled all over the world in the last few months and I'm sure there are long lists of names I haven't seen yet. As we get closer and the budget is decided because that's always part of the equation, I'm sure those names will start to come."


Explaining the process of Sunderland's preparation for a transfer window, Mowbray said: "What normally happens at this club is that on our laptops some footage of the players we're looking at start appearing and as staff we can have a look and then have meetings where we all give our own opinion.

"We'll have four or five coaching staff there, not just me, and everyone gives their opinion, whether they like that player or they don't like that player and we take it from there.

"It's not just the coaching staff but the recruitment staff has opinions, the sporting director has opinions, I'm sure the owner has opinions. Then there's the financial aspect. Which player do we go for? We all might like this one but he's £20m so why is he on the list?

"That's how it works generally. We've started the player audits so we're assessing where we think we're strong, where we might need to add another player or two and the closer you get to January the more that crystallises, you've seen the clips of them and you know the conversations have started."