David Moyes in race to land Sunderland transfer tafrgets

Sunderland boss David Moyes is facing a desperate race against time to land his transfer targets and prevent the club's season from unravelling before it has begun in earnest.

David Moyes Black Cats were reduced to just one fit central defender during their defeat by Middlesbrough. Picture: AFP/Getty
David Moyes Black Cats were reduced to just one fit central defender during their defeat by Middlesbrough. Picture: AFP/Getty

Moyes saw a squad depleted by departures and injuries succumb 2-1 to derby rivals Middlesbrough on Sunday, with debutant Papy Djilobodji and youngsters Adnan Januzaj, Lynden Gooch, Duncan Watmore, Donald Love and Paddy McNair thrown in at the deep end.

A first-half injury to skipper John O’Shea left him with just one fit central defender and with Lamine Kone’s future still uncertain, there is much work to be done before the transfer window closes.

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Moyes said: “What we have got, we are having to add to it with young players as well as one or two experienced players, and we have got to try to get the balance right and obviously choose and get the right players at the right price in the transfer market.

“That’s actually quite difficult. It’s easily said, but it’s not that easy and the prices, as you can imagine, are a bit more than they have been in the past.”

Back-to-back defeats by Manchester City and Boro have left the Black Cats without a point to their name, and Moyes was not shying away from the facts when it was put to him that fans may fear another ­relegation battle. He said: “Well, they would probably be right because that’s where they’ve been every other year for the last four years, so why would it suddenly change? I think it will be, I don’t think you can hide the facts, that will be the case, yes.”

Cristhian Stuani’s first-half double got promoted Boro off to the perfect start and even if his 13th-minute opener came decidedly against the run of play, Patrick van Aanholt’s 71st-minute strike ultimately counted for little.

Asked if he was relaxed as time ran down, the Teessiders’ head coach Aitor Karanka said: “Relaxed? Impossible. It was difficult. I told them at half-time that one goal takes a lot of time, but two or three arrive soon, so for that reason, I told them that we would have to be careful and if we conceded a goal, we had to play in the same way as we tried to play in the first half because I knew with their crowd support and their quality, we were going to have problems.”

Meanwhile, Vito Mannone is urging Sunderland to use the EFL Cup to belatedly launch their season before it spirals out of control.

The 28-year-old Italian goalkeeper is a veteran of the club’s 2013-14 League Cup campaign, in which they defeaed Manchester United in the semi-finals before losing to Manchester City at Wembley in the midst of a remarkable surge to Premier League safety under then manager Gus Poyet. Three seasons on, the Black Cats welcome Shrewsbury to the Stadium of Light tomorrow night in a state of flux.

Mannone said: “I was very, very happy with what we did in that cup run. I think it has stuck with the fans and with me, that Old Trafford night and making the final. It’s an important competition where, from my experience, we started to play well. It was like a kind of training for the league, so it builds your confidence, it gives games to most of the boys in the team and if you do well, you do well in the league.

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“We need to treat it like this, as a competitive game, as a league game again because we need to win on Wednesday if we want to win on Saturday. You can’t do badly on Wednesday and do perfectly on Saturday.”

Mannone said: “In the last week, you lose important players through injuries, whatever it is, I don’t even know, so you find yourselves with different players, and the players who have just come in have to step in in a difficult game like today.

“We don’t have a long time – there’s another game on Wednesday. We have to win that, start to build our confidence and go into Southampton with confidence again.”