Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has revealed that a ball-playing English central midfielder is absolutely key to his plans.

The Italian wants the 'heartbeat' of his Black Cats to be English despite bringing in a handful of foreign recruits during the summer transfer window.

Di Canio told the Sunderland Echo that while the club is targeting bringing in more options to strengthen in the full-back positions, the acquisition of that key player in the middle of the park is his top priority.

"The club is working on the two full backs, but more important to me is the need to get a key player in central midfield - someone who's English," he said.

"He needs to be English, with a physical presence, because we have analysed that. Because he needs to know English football inside. And also a player with very good quality - because we want to play attractive football which gets good results."

Tottenham's Tom Huddlestone is one player who could be on Di Canio's radar.

James McClean is the latest player to leave the Stadium of Light after the Irishman signed a deal with Championship side Wigan Athletic.

The Italian is also willing to let a trio of stars leave - midfielders David Vaughan, Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole and defender Phil Bardsley - before the transfer deadline passes.

The money raised from the sale is reportedly set to go on one last spending splurge ahead of the new season as Di Canio hopes to fire the Black Cats up the league.


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