KRISTJAAN SPEAKMAN claims Sunderland were involved in discussions over “three or four” attacking players that failed to reach a successful conclusion on transfer-deadline day.

The Black Cats brought in two players on Thursday, with winger Romaine Mundle completing a permanent move from Standard Liege and midfielder Callum Sykes joining on loan from Barnsley, with a view to a permanent switch in the summer.

However, despite head coach Michael Beale having identified the acquisition of a new centre-forward as the key priority last month, the window closed without a ‘number nine’ arriving on Wearside.


Sunderland lost out on Kieffer Moore as they were unable to match the financial package being offered by Ipswich Town and failed to land Amad Diallo when Manchester United refused to allow the Ivorian youngster to leave on loan.

Speakman admits a number of potential deals fell by the wayside in the final few hours of the window, but continues to insist that Sunderland have sufficient attacking options to succeed in the second half of the season.

“The nine position is very similar to the rest of them – you have three or four targets that you try to prioritise,” said the Black Cats sporting director. “The forward position is always an area you want to try to strengthen and improve if you can.

“We went right down to the wire on three or four of them, but in the end, it wasn’t to be for various reasons, availability being one of them.

“Ultimately, finance gets drawn into it and there is a choice if you want to spend more and more, but there becomes a point where you have to evaluate that against the value and on this occasion that didn't come through for us.

“It’s not something with huge frustration, to be honest. We improved the forward line with Romaine joining us and we've got three players in the building we believe in.

“I think there is a lot of talk around nines. I think if you look into the stats and the details, there is a lot more goals coming from other areas of the pitch in every team in this league and other leagues. We need different goalscorers from different parts of the pitch and then two or three players to score some good numbers and, hopefully, that’s what we can deliver."

Amad’s future was the subject of sustained speculation through the window, and there was a point where Sunderland felt they had a genuine chance of getting the forward back on loan.

Ultimately, that didn’t happen, but Speakman does not regret pushing repeatedly for the 21-year-old, even if it meant potentially missing out on alternative deals.

“Amad was one of those three or four targets,” he said. “Ultimately, you’re waiting on player availability most of the time.

“It ran its course that he wasn’t available. He’s not turned up anywhere else. We stayed in that for as long as we possibly could, and in hindsight, you could say that was to the detriment of maybe signing another player earlier on, but we felt that was the choice we had to make and we were comfortable with that choice.”

Mundle arrives having made just six substitute appearances for Standard Liege in the first half of the season, but the former Tottenham trainee is match fit and is set to go straight into the squad for Sunday’s Tees-Wear derby with Middlesbrough.

Styles is in a different position as his switch from Barnsley was initially put on hold when he was rushed into hospital in the second half of last month to undergo an emergency appendix operation.

His recovery is well under way, and while he is expected to miss the next two matches, Sunderland’s recruitment team felt it was better to push through his signing now rather than wait until the summer.

“Romaine’s not played a lot of football in terms of starting appearances, but he’s been fully fit and training,” said Speakman. “He came in and did his fitness testing, so we know exactly where he’s at. He will be available for selection at the weekend, and that will obviously be up to the coach to pick the team.

“With regards to Callum, his situation is fairly unique. We had an agreement in principle on Callum, but then unfortunately he had to go for what is probably classed as emergency surgery, but what is actually a fairly minor operation nowadays because the doctors do such an incredible job with that type of thing.

“He’s just got to get himself back on his feet, and over the next ten to 14 days, he should be back out on the grass and available for selection. That was part of our decision making – do you stick with that or choose something else? We just felt that was the right decision for us and we were prepared to forego the next game or two games to make sure he was available for the rest of the games.”