Sunderland ended their four-year spell in the third tier of English football as they won in the final of the League One play-offs last month.
Elliot Embleton and Ross Stewart scored the goals in the final after the club beat Sheffield Wednesday over two legs in the semi-finals.
Neil and Kristjaan Speakman will now be plotting deals to improve the squad with a view to being competitive in the second tier next term.
They have already been linked with a number of players and one gem who has been touted with a return to the Stadium of Light is central defender Dion Sanderson.
Sunderland are reportedly interested in signing him from Wolves, on a temporary or permanent basis, after his loan spell in the 2020/21 campaign.
Imagine him & Bailey Wright
Journalist Josh Bunting has claimed that he would be a “perfect” signing for Neil’s style of play. He is a defender who is comfortable in possession and this means that he can build up the play for the Scot from the back.
Should Sunderland sign Sanderson?
During his time with the Black Cats, the centre-back completed 83% of his passes, 93% in his own half, and completed 75% of his dribbles as he stepped out from the backline to start attacks.
Neil can pair him with Wright to form a solid defence in the Championship as their respective qualities can complement each other. Whilst the current Wolves man has the technical ability to be a ball progressor from centre-back, the Australian enforcer is a strong defender who can get stuck in.
That is not to say that Sanderson is not a good defender, though, as he caught the eye for the club in the past. Josh Bunting dubbed the centre-back “absolutely superb” and his statistics for Sunderland in League One back that up. In 26 third-tier outings, Sanderson averaged an excellent SofaScore rating of 6.92 whilst playing for Lee Johnson.
Now, imagine both of them lining up in Neil’s defence next season…
This is a deal the Scottish boss must get done in the coming weeks, whether that is on a permanent basis or on loan from the Premier League side.
AND in other news, Speakman plotting Sunderland swoop for “massive” 6 ft 3 colossus, Neil would love him…