MICHAEL Beale took Sunderland's three January signings out for dinner this week - and liked what he heard from the new recruits.

Sunderland's head coach admires Romaine Mundle, Callum Styles and Leo Hjelde as players but, after allowing them a few days to settle in following their arrival on Wearside late in the winter window, wanted to get to know the trio better away from football and the training ground.

For Beale, learning to understand what makes the trio tick off the pitch will help to ensure he gets the very best out of them on a matchday.


"I'm mindful that they're in a hotel at the moment until they find something permanent, I've been there myself so it's nice to go out," said Sunderland's head coach.

"The restaurant we went to, Romaine had already been there and was ordering before anyone else had chance to look at the menu!"

"They are three interesting boys for different reasons. Callum has played over 200 games, more than 125 in the Championship as a 23-year-old, Romaine has just had this experience in Belgium, Leo has had a big experience in Scotland as well as Leeds and in this league with Rotherham, so it's nice to get to know them and they get to know me.

"I always think once you feel comfortable with someone you can get the best out of them. For me, a new player coming in to our environment, it's how quickly the staff and teammates can make them feel comfortable.

"You sign a player because you watch them on another team and see them playing well, but how do you pick that up and get the same performance in our team? It's not just a case of him wearing a blue shirt one day and a red and white the next, there's a little bit of integration. It's all part of the process.

"And you want to pick their brains, they've all come from good clubs. Callum is an international getting ready for the Euros, so you want to know what they like, what they've seen that they like, what are one or two areas that we might be able to improve. Any way we can get better, we have to look at."

Saturday’s visit of Plymouth will come too soon for Styles, who had appendix surgery last month, but the former Barnsley man isn’t too far from being available to make his debut. Hjelde is likely to keep his place in the team and Mundle is again expected to be involved in the squad.