David Moyes has confirmed that his transfer budget is “limited with a capital L," and that he won't be able to bring in stars to save the club from relegation in the January window.
A year ago, former Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce spent impressively on the likes of Lamine Kone, Whabi Khazri and Jan Kirchhoff during the winter to secure their Premier League safety.
But Moyes - hamstrung by 13 players being out through injury or international commitments - is being forced to analyse free transfers after failing in a cut-price bid for Robbie Brady.
Moyes said: “I think I’d be kidding you on if I told you that the players we’re going to bring in in January will make a big difference. First of all, we probably couldn’t get that level of player.
“Secondly, we probably wouldn’t have the finances to do that.
“I think to suggest that the players we’ll be bringing in will make a big difference wouldn’t be correct.
“I think the players that did come in at the same time for Sunderland last year did make a big difference and did a good job.
“You’ve just got to trust me that I’ll be generating and finding ways to try to balance the books the best I can.”
Crystal Palace want Sunderland left-back Patrick van Aanholt but so far the Black Cats have found the Eagles' valuation of the Dutchman to be below what they would require to sanction a departure.
And while Moyes could then reinvest those funds, it's looking increasingly like Sunderland will finish the season with a squad much like the one they have now.
“I’m not saying we won’t get players who can go straight into the team," added Moyes. "I think it just depends a bit on the quality and what’s available. I’d say we’ll probably be looking at loans and free agents as well, “ he said.
"I think January was always going to be a difficult month for us. We were always going to be down with the players going away to the Africa Cup of Nations, an our injuries at the moment didn’t really look like they were going to come back, certainly none of the long termers.
“I think a lot will be dictated by us getting some of our own players back into the squad as well, that will help us.”
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