Sunderland's latest injury woe is shaking up transfer plans
Bailey Wright of Sunderland warms up before the Sky Bet League One match between Charlton Athletic and Sunderland at The Valley on October 3, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images)

Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson has a selection dilemma in central defence going into the final week of the transfer window. 

Arbenit Xhemalji's injury whilst on international duty amplifies the need for reinforcements at centre-back. The Kosovan sustained an injury in training this week which, according to the Sunderland Echo, could keep him out for "weeks to months". 

This comes at a terrible time for Phil Parkinson, who is without Tom Flanagan for the trip to Swindon next week after he was sent off against Charlton. To add salt to the wounds, summer signing Morgan Feeney has been ruled out for four months with a hamstring problem.

 

  • Final week of the window

Xhemalji's injury means that Sunderland are now on the lookout for a centre-back to join their ranks. 

Phil Parkinson already hinted that he wanted to add in that area after the loss of Feeney. The issue has now doubled with Xhemalji's absence. 

Sunderland are already facing some challenges in relation to the transfer window. The club are edging very close to the threshold of the EFL salary cap, meaning it becomes more difficult to bring players through the door.

In addition to defensive reinforcements, Sunderland are looking to add a left wing-back to their ranks. Currently, Denver Hume is the only player at the club who can play in that role. The club's hands are tied with the salary cap hurdle.

Mark Donnelly of Sunderland Echo told VAVEL that he expects the club to shop smartly in order to get around the salary cap. 

"They will be looking at under-21 players for at least one of those areas, given they'll be exempt from the cap," Donnelly noted.

The transfer window shuts on 16th October for EFL clubs. Sunderland need to act quickly if they are to get the necessary numbers through the door.

  • Selection Dilemma

Meanwhile, Sunderland are gearing up to face Swindon Town next Saturday. Parkinson will want a settled side for the game so it is likely that any signing will not feature in that game.

That leaves a significant gap in the squad for the game that needs filling.

Brandon Taylor featured in the mid-week 5-3 victory over Carlisle in the EFL Trophy. The 20-year-old has impressed his manager with his performances in the senior side. So, he could perhaps take the step up to the senior league side. 

Similarly, Luke O'Nien deputised at centre-back in the midweek win. This allowed hot prospect Jack Diamond to slot in a right wing-back, where he impressed in a man-of-the-match display.

Diamond has been pushing to join the first-team for a few weeks after being named as a substitute for the opening league fixtures. This selection headache may give him the opportunity to impress his boss further. 

Parkinson told the Echo after the Carlisle win that he was delighted for Diamond. "He is an exciting player and at times he showed that tonight," Parkinson said. 

"He probably just needed a bit more consistency in his all-round game over the course of the 90 minutes. But it is fantastic for him.”

Sunderland may be hit with a selection crisis for the upcoming fixtures, however, it provides others with an opportunity to impress. Diamond or Taylor could be the beneficiary of this latest crisis. 

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