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Sat, Dec
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Stern John believes Roy Keane has built a squad capable of surviving the acid test of the Premiership.


The Sunderland hitman is one of 13 new players brought to Wearside by Keane - 10 of them on permanent deals.

Since taking over in August, Keane has added John, David Connolly, Dwight Yorke, Carlos Edwards, Graham Kavanagh, Ross Wallace, Stanislav Varga, Anthony Stokes, Liam Miller and Marton Fulop to the ranks, while Jonny Evans, Danny Simpson and, before Christmas, Lewin Nyatanga have all come on loan.

The Black Cats are firmly in the hunt for automatic promotion and Keane will have money to spend on further strengthening his squad if they bounce back to the top flight at the first attempt.

But John reckons that Keane's current crop would make the grade in the Premiership, irrespective of how much more money might be spent in the summer.

He said: "This squad is good enough for the Premiership - we have some very good players here.

"Most of them have played in the Premiership before and I'm convinced this squad would survive at that level - and of course if, as we all hope, Sunderland are promoted then I'm sure the manager will strengthen the squad further.

"All the players need is the right guidance and in Roy Keane we have the right manager to give us that.

"These players can perform in the Premiership, definitely."

Trinidad & Tobago star John has experience of promotion from the Championship, having contributed eight goals in 16 games for Birmingham as the Blues went up via the play-offs in 2002.

But the 30-year-old (right) says this Sunderland team is the best he has played in at this level.

He said: "There is a terrific togetherness in this team and everybody works for each other.

"It is probably the best Championship team I have played in.

"We are in a great position now. We are playing well and we just have to maintain our consistency during the run-in, because consistency is the biggest thing in the Championship.