Sunderland January Transfer Window Review

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Another eventful transfer window has come and gone. Sunderland saw four players arrive as head coach Lee Johnson strengthened his squad ahead of the second half of the season. Five players also left the club, including a couple of surprise departures on deadline day. Here is a look at who arrived on Wearside and who departed. Plus the verdict on them all.

Sunderland January Transfer Window Round-Up

Sunderland January Transfer Window Incomings

Carl Winchester

Carl Winchester, midfielder and former captain of Forest Green Rovers, arrived as Lee Johnson’s first signing as Sunderland head coach. Johnson had worked with Winchester for three years when they were at Oldham Athletic, therefore they know each other well.

Speaking to the Sunderland Echo shortly after signing the Forest Green captain, Johnson said he believed that Winchester had been playing below his natural level

He said: “He is a good player who is in the prime of his career, and his versatility means he can play in a number of positions, ensuring he will also bring depth to our squad. When he was a young player at Oldham, every top club wanted him, which shows the potential he has always had.

“He has represented some good clubs, but in terms of division, we believe he has been playing below his natural level.”

Jake Vokins

Left-back Jake Vokins was one of three new players to arrive late in the transfer window. The 20-year-old arrived from Premier League side Southampton on loan for the rest of the season. Lee Johnson had been searching for another full-back following the injury to first-choice Denver Hume. 

The youngster believes he is good on the ball and can get crosses into the box. With Johnson wanting more ammunition given to his strikers, it is hoped that Vokins is a man of his word.

Jordan Jones

Another loan signing. Jordan Jones arrived from Scottish giants Rangers for the rest of the current campaign. A tricky winger with a pinpoint cross, he is the type of player Johnson has been wanting to help break down stubborn opposition defences. 

Jones may need a little time to regain match fitness having struggled for game time at Ibrox but he could be a real asset with his attacking threat and directness. However, he could also be a player that could frustrate fans and the head coach.

Ross Stewart 

Another arrival from Scotland. Striker Ross Stewart arrived on a two-and-a-half-year deal following his signing from Ross County. Stewart has not been as prolific this season as he would have liked; however, for the most part, he has been played out of position on the wing.

The player himself is confident he can produce the goods on Wearside. Speaking to the clubs’ official website, he said: I will give one hundred per cent in every game; I’m a very committed and hard-working player, and as a striker, hopefully, I can bring a lot of goals to the club as well.”

Verdict on Arrivals

So far, only Carl Winchester has been seen play in a red and white shirt. The former Forest Green Rovers captain has been steady in his performances so far without having much impact on the game. However, it is still very early in his Sunderland career. 

Lee Johnson will be hoping that Vokins, Jones and Stewart can bring extra creativity to the final third. Sunderland have struggled to break teams down despite dominating possession. Vokins is a full-back who likes to get forward and cross the ball, Jones is a tricky winger who can contribute both assists and goals, and Stewart is a striker who, if played in his favourite position, could be an asset in the short and long term.

Although it is early days, the signs are that Lee Johnson has done well to bring in the players he has done under the pressures of the salary cap.

Sunderland January Transfer Window Outgoings

Will Grigg

Few Sunderland fans will be disappointed about the departure of Will Grigg. The Northern Ireland international has joined former club MK Dons on loan for the remainder of the season. 

Grigg has struggled for form and goals since he arrived in a big-money move two years ago. Just eight goals in over 60 appearances have come his way and as yet, he has failed to score this season. 

Danny Graham 

Striker Graham had his contract terminated by mutual consent on deadline day. It ended a second disastrous spell at the Stadium of Light for the experienced forward. One goal during his first period at the club in 42 games was then followed by another solitary goal in 17 appearances during his second spell. 

It is unlikely that the former Blackburn Rovers and Swansea City striker will be remembered fondly on Wearside.

Elliot Embleton

A surprise departure on deadline day. Embleton is highly thought of amongst fans and staff and Sunderland and was beginning to force his way into Lee Johnson’s first-team plans. The talented attacking midfielder has joined Blackpool on loan for the rest of the season. 

Sunderland’s Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman said: “Elliot requires a little more opportunity than we can provide at this moment and it’s an important period for him following the time he missed through injury. 

“We have a clear plan for his progression and felt that under Neil, Blackpool was a great chance for him to gain more experience at this level in a different environment.”

Morgan Feeney

21-year-old defender Feeney left the club following the expiry of his short-term contract. He played and scored in the 8-1 victory of Aston Villa in the EFL Trophy earlier in the season but suffered a knee injury soon after. He has not played since.

George Dobson

Midfielder Dobson has joined AFC Wimbledon on loan until the end of the season. Signed in the summer of 2019, the former Walsall captain has gone on to make 47appearances for the Black Cats. However, since the arrival of Lee Johnson, he has begun to fall down the pecking order. The signing of Carl Winchester also appeared to give Dobson little hope of game time.

At 23-years-old, Dobson needs to be playing regularly. If he does, he could return a better a player for it.

Sunderland January Transfer Window Outgoings Verdict

The jury is out as to whether it was a good decision to loan Elliot Embleton to Blackpool. A talented and versatile midfielder, he could have been of use to Lee Johnson during the second half of the season. However, He needs games and he appears to have more chance of regular matches at Blackpool.

Will Grigg needed a move to rediscover the form he showed prior to joining. Danny Graham’s departure will suit all concerned. Another unsuccessful spell at the club left him falling down the pecking order.

George Dobson was another struggling to break into Lee Johnson’s matchday squad. The midfielder now has a chance to develop further and show Johnson what he can do given regular game time.

Morgan Feeney was injured early in Sunderland spell and hasn’t featured. Allowing him to leave was the sensible option for all.

Overall, the majority of the outgoings have been the correct call. However, the jury is out on the Elliot Embleton move. Only time will tell if this was a correct decision.

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