Updated: Jul 17
Phil Parkinson has updated fans on the transfer scenario, speaking about the situation regarding Kosovan defender Arbenit Xhemajli, who has been on trial over pre-season, former SAFC front man Danny Graham, as well as Aiden McGeady’s future.
“We have been back five and a half weeks, training has been good, the squad is getting there, we still have work to do. The lads in the building have worked hard and we are looking forward to the start of the campaign. It’s been well documented that we’ve been speaking to Arbenit Xhemajli, from Xamax over in Switzerland, he’s a player we’d like to bring in for many reasons - he’s a young player, he’s got good quality and he can play right across the back three or four. We’re close to bringing him in, and that would be a good boost for us in terms of having another young player who can work with and strengthen the squad. But we need at least another three players need to come in to make us strong enough. We’ve got to be realistic that we’ve almost got to have two starting 11s to meet the demands of the midweek games, which is going to be the case this season. We’re not there yet, but we’re close to completing a deal before the weekend, which will be great for us, and then there are one or two others we’re waiting to fall our way next week.”
He continued: “Danny (Graham) is a player we’ve spoken to, along with a number of other players in that position, there is an interest, as I’ve said already, and we’re working on that alongside another couple of things that could probably happen next week. The expectations are there and we have been strong enough to deal with that. Once we have those two or three extra players, I’m confident we will be as strong as anyone else in the division. The window is open until October, so there’s plenty of time, but we just feel that the time is right for Aiden to move on; we’ve got young players in the squad in (Elliot) Embleton and Dan Neil in particular who we want to give an opportunity to this season. Aiden has got the opportunity to move on. He had an extended break because he’d been with Charlton, and unfortunately he came back training with the Under 23s and pulled his calf. At the moment, he’s not on the training pitch, so he needs to get that right. It shouldn’t take too long, and then hopefully there’s a move for him that he fancies and is right for all parties.”
Ahead of Saturday’s clash in the Carabao Cup against Hull City at the Stadium of Light, the gaffer updated the injury situation, saying “Jordan (Willis) just felt his groin tighten during a clearance, and we obviously weren’t going to take any risks with him, and Josh (Scowen) has just picked up a bruised foot/ankle in a challenge, but it doesn’t look too bad at the moment.”
There may even be hope for a return to the stands for the Sunderland faithful too, a new government pilot at the Abbey Stadium Cambridge aims to “allow for any learnings to be implemented quickly under the same conditions.” 1000 fans will be allowed inside the ground for their EFL Trophy fixture against Fulham Under-23s on September 8th with up to 2,500 supporters permitted for Cambridge’s opening League Two fixture of the season at home to Carlisle on September 12th. Hopefully this all goes well and we can be back in the stands at the SoL before we know it.