SUNDERLAND expect to complete the signing of Danny Graham today before the transfer window closes.
Then the 27-year-old will begin what may be a difficult process to win over a section of the support which seems unable to forgive his Newcastle United connections.
A £5.5m deal should still go ahead despite Graham being booed by some fans when he came on as a substitute for Swansea during Tuesday night’s 0-0 draw at the Stadium of Light.
Martin O’Neill believes Graham can cope with the criticism surrounding his now infamous comments made about Sunderland during his Watford days.
The match against Swansea proved, if proof were needed, Sunderland need another forward to help main striker Steven Fletcher.
Black Cats goalkeeper Simon Mignolet believes any more new players would help a recently-rejuvenated squad that has taken 13 points from their last seven Premier League matches.
At least Graham is joining a team with ambitions to finish in the top ten rather than just avoid a bottom-three finish.
Mignolet said: “The new faces can give the other lads a confidence boost.
“The new players also get a confidence boost by coming in and joining a team which has a few good results rather than some bad ones. They have to try to get in the team from one day to the next and when everyone is playing well then the new players know they have to be at their best.
“They know we have a good side and will be pushing to get a place in a the team.
“There are a lot of players all playing well and deserving a place.
“There is a lot of competition now .
“That can only be a good thing for the squad and the gaffer.
“The gaffer knows what he is doing. He will do what he can. I don’t know what is going on behind the scenes.
“We just have to look at the game and ourselves on Saturday.
“As a player you look forward to the next game and not to the end of the transfer window.”
Sunderland travel to Reading this weekend looking for another win on the road following victories at Southampton and Aston Villa.
O’Neill spoke of a relegation battle before Christmas but now Sunderland can genuinely look up the table rather than concentrate on what is going on below them.
Mignolet added: “Are we safe? We cannot speak in those words.
“There are another three points at stake at Reading on Saturday and we will see where we end up in the table.
“There is still a lot to play for. It’s not just about looking behind us because now we can also look up.
“A win on Saturday and we could be in the top half. There is a lot to be excited about.”
No matter what happens against Reading, the game will surely be better than Tuesday night’s match at the Stadium of Light which failed to deliver a goal or any real excitement.
Mignolet added: “We didn’t get the chances against Swansea, but we defended well and I think 0-0 was the logical result.
“Swansea are a very good team and in the end we should be happy with the result.
“Now we look to Reading and it’s a game we can win.
“It was a cold evening, I didn’t have too many things to do, but I was pleased we stayed strong defensively.
“Unfortunately we didn’t get the chances to get the points on the board.
“They made it tough for us because they kept the ball well. The boys worked really hard and Swansea are a very good side, especially away from home.”