Sunderland manager Alex Neil has revealed the reasons the club did not look to re-sign Manchester City centre back Callum Doyle during this summer’s transfer window.
Doyle spent last season on loan with the Black Cats, making scoring once in 44 appearances in all competitions for the club, as they won promotion back to the Championship via the play-offs.
However, the 18-year-old has not returned to the Stadium of Light for the coming campaign, instead linking up with another second-tier side, Coventry City, on another loan deal.
Sunderland meanwhile, have boosted their defensive ranks with the additions of Dan Ballard and Aji Alese from Arsenal and West Ham respectively.
What was th score the last time Sunderland played in each of these 26 stadiums?
Now it seems as though the change in demands following promotion, was something of a factor for Neil in his decision not to pursue another deal for Doyle.
Explaining why he did not go back in to sign the Manchester City defender again, Neil told The Sunderland Echo: “Callum was similar to Dan Neil last season in that they’re two supremely talented lads who I thought looked burnt out by the time I arrived at the club.
“I thought they’d been overworked. I actually gave Callum a week’s holiday at one point, literally just to let him go rest and recover physically and mentally.
“The fact is, we’ve obviously stepped up a level and I think with the players we’ve currently got, we looked at potentially a different type [of defender].
“If you look at Aji Alese’s qualities and what he brings, he’s a different type of player to Callum and I felt we needed to add that to the squad. Equally, Callum is a fantastic footballer, technically very, very good.”
Doyle could make his debut for Coventry against Sunderland on Sunday afternoon, when the two sides go head to head at the Stadium of Light in their opening game of the Championship season.
Ths does feel like a fair explanation for Neil to offer for this particular decision.
It is worth noting that Doyle had been signed some time before Neil took over as Sunderland manager, so he may not have been one that the Black Cats targeted, had he been in charge from the start of the season.
As a result, it makes sense for Neil to pursue players he feels suit his style of play, something he appears to have done with the centre backs he has brought in this summer.
Indeed, while Coventry have only got Doyle on loan, both Alese and Ballard have signed permanently for Sunderland, meaning the club have also given themselves more longer term security in that position.