MIKE DODDS expects Sunderland’s hierarchy to adopt a “more balanced approach” to this summer’s transfer window, with an increased willingness to add some older players to the squad.

The Black Cats’ recruitment model has come in for a lot of attention in the last couple of years, with the vast majority of incoming deals during that period having involved the recruitment of youngsters, often with little or no first-team experience in the Championship. At the same time, a number of older players have been allowed to leave rather than being offered new contracts.

The result is that the club has been left with the youngest squad in the division, and both Tony Mowbray and Michael Beale questioned the wisdom of having such an inexperienced group.

Dodds supports the general principles of Sunderland’s ‘model’, and expects the club to continue prioritising the purchase of young players who can be improved and developed over time.

However, having been heavily involved in recruitment meetings in the last couple of weeks, the interim head coach senses an acceptance that the make-up of the squad has tilted too far in one direction. As a result, when Kristjaan Speakman finalises his list of summer targets ahead of the reopening of the window, a handful of older targets could make the cut.

“I think, and I use this phrase carefully, there will be a little bit more of a balanced approach,” said Dodds. “The club is never going to completely change its approach to identifying young players and potential diamonds in the rough, that's not just something that they're going to abandon because it's what they believe in and why they invested in the football club.


“But I do think this season has highlighted the fact that we probably do need one or two (more experienced players) around what we currently have, and I also feel like there probably needs to be a little more depth.

“I took over the team where the injury list was severe, and it probably highlighted that a little bit of depth needs addressing. So, I think there'll be slight changes, a slightly more balanced approach.

“It’s never going to change entirely, but this season has highlighted - and it will be a positive (in the long term), albeit it doesn't feel like it right now when we're sat in mid-table – that some things need addressing, and I think the club will do their utmost to do that in the summer.”

Given his day-to-day involvement with the first team in the last couple of months, Dodds is likely to continue to have an input into the summer recruitment process even if a new head coach is appointed this summer.

A new permanent boss will also be involved, although as sporting director, Speakman will continue to have the leading role within the recruitment operation.

“We've had our first round of meetings in terms of recruitment, and also in terms of what's been positive and not so positive,” continued Dodds. “So that's the preliminary rounds that we've done, there were no individuals discussed within that, but you discuss squad composition, areas of focus for the summer and all those kinds of things.

“I know there's another set of meetings due for the last week of the season and then three or four set up for the post-season in terms of recruitment, and more beyond that.

“Obviously, whoever the new head coach is will be updated on the meetings that have happened and will then have an influence on comings and goings from there.

“So, we've had our first meetings, if that makes sense, in terms of reflections of this year's recruitment and the things that need to be addressed from the start of next season.”