Sunderland's pre-season preparations will ramp up again this morning with Regis Le Bris getting a closer look at the players he has at his disposal. 

Buoyed by the news Chris Rigg is on the verge of signing a new three-year deal, the mood has changed drastically on Wearside in just over a week. There was also the news that Callum Styles would not be signing for Sunderland on a permanent deal, returning to parent club Barnsley for pre-season.

Capable of playing at left-back, left-wing back and in midfield, it leaves Sunderland a body light in those areas of the pitch. Do the club need another versatile defender?

READ MORE: Scouted series: Sunderland's new look goalkeeping department

Every day this week, we will be taking you through a different area of the squad, looking at their individual contract situations and assessing where Le Bris needs to strengthen his squad.

We'll even throw in a few suggestions of potential names they could look at, just for fun!

In part two we're taking a look at the full-back position.

Dennis Cirkin

Sunderland's number one choice at left-back was a huge miss last season. Dennis Cirkin's injury kept him out for the majority of the 2023/24 campaign, but has reported back for pre-season.

The Black Cats need the former Tottenham Hotspur trainee to stay injury free if they want to have a successful campaign.

Cirkin is not only an astute defender, but also an attacking threat from left-back, something they sorely lacked last season. On paper, he appears a good fit for Le Bris' style of play.

The only concern, as previously mentioned, is his recent track record with injuries.

Keeping Dennis Cirkin fit will be key for Sunderland this season.Keeping Dennis Cirkin fit will be key for Sunderland this season. (Image: PA)

Trai Hume

Sunderland are well stocked with options on the right-hand side of defence. In Trai Hume, they have one of, if not the best right-backs in the division.

He's another who has caught the eye of a number of Premier League clubs and could potentially be one that moves on this summer, if the right bid comes in. It won't necessarily be what supporters want to hear, given Sunderland should be building their team around the likes of Hume.

That being said, the Northern Irish defender has reiterated he's happy at the Stadium of Light, despite talking up his desire to play in the Premier League, hopefully that's with Sunderland.

Timothee Pembele

It was a slow start to life on Wearside for Timothee Pembele. An injury kept him out of the early part of the season and he was unable to oust Hume from the right-back slot.

However, when Sunderland shifted to a back-five, with Hume on the right of a back three, Pembele came into the side as a right-wing-back and turned in a handful of decent performances.

The draw with Leeds United his best display in red and white.

It's fair to say the Frenchman isn't as good defensively as Hume, but can offer more in the final third with his pace and rampaging runs forward. You'd expect him to play understudy to Hume again this season.

Niall Huggins

Arguably Sunderland's player of the year last season, injuries once again put an end to Niall Huggins' game time.

The Wales youth international was on the brink of signing a new deal with the Black Cats prior to his recent setback. Capable of playing on either side of defence, Sunderland will be hopeful he can make an appearance at the turn of the year.

CB options who can fill in

Sunderland also have a number of options who can fill in on either side of the defence. Leo Hjelde, by his own admission prefers to play as a centre-back, but has played at left-back for Sunderland and his former club Leeds United.

Admittedly, he's struggled when out at full-back, given he lacks pace compared to some of the Championship's lively wingers.

Sunderland's Aji Alese.Sunderland's Aji Alese. (Image: Ian Horrocks)

Aji Alese, is probably Sunderland's number two option at left-back, although he's someone who looks the business as a wide centre-back in a back three. He's another who had an injury hit campaign but can fill in at left-back comfortably.

Finally, Jenson Seelt, will miss the first-half of the 2024/25 campaign after picking up an ACL injury last season. Another who looked more natural at centre-half, but can play at right-back if needed.

Academy options

Oli Bainbridge, was one of the standout performers for Sunderland U21s and could well be on the fringes next season. Linked with a move to Everton on the back of his impressive season with Graeme Murty's men, he deserves an opportunity to impress in pre-season, or indeed head out on loan to further his development.

Young right-back, Thomas Lavery, signed his first professional contract with the club earlier today. He's enjoyed a breakthrough campaign with the U21s, featuring in the FA Youth Cup with the U18s and has been on the fringes of the first-team.

He might be a little way off starting for the first-team, but he's an exciting prospect coming through the system.

Potential transfer targets

If Sunderland were to sign a full-back this summer, it wouldn't come as a surprise. When all those listed in this article are fit, they have a plethora of talent.

However, there lies the issue - keeping them fit.

As things stand, they're well stocked at right-back, while the left-back area looks a little suspect. Alese and Cirkin have both had a torrid run with injuries, while Hjelde has struggled.

Ryan Sessegnon is someone that has been linked with Sunderland in recent weeks and has just left Tottenham Hotspur. Capable of playing at left-back and left wing, he would be quite the coup.

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However, the 24-year is said to be training with Crystal Palace in an attempt to win a Premier League move.  It also wouldn't be a cheap move for Sunderland, but an exciting possibility.

Cody Drameh, is reportedly set to leave Leeds United and was part of the Luton Town play-off winning side in 2022/23. He spent last season on loan with Birmingham City and could well be a potential candidate if Trai Hume were to leave this summer.

However, Sunderland would have to pay a compensation fee if Drameh were to reject fresh terms at Leeds, given 22-years-old. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Black Cats bring in a defender on loan.