David Moyes has warned Sunderland need big investment in the summer to stop their slide.
The Black Cats boss admits there will be a huge turnover of players, no matter what division they end up in.
Moyes says he was left short at the start of this season after taking over from Sam Allardyce – and says he could find himself in the same situation come August.
He has yet to have a conversation with owner Ellis Short and MD Martin Bain to plan for next term, because he is still not giving up the slim hope of a late survival bid.
Around 12 players are likely to be shown the door in the summer, with star men like Jermain Defoe, Lamine Kone and Jordan Pickford likely to leave, the veteran striker on a free and the other two for up to £30million.
Moyes will turn to British players with connections to the north when rebuilding, and he said: “We were short of players last summer, again in January, and will be again at the end of the season, because a lot of players are out of contract.
“Whatever league we are in, that will be the case. We will have to work really hard on recruiting and some of that will need finance. Some of that will be boys on free transfers.
“It’s part of the rebuilding and, hopefully, we are in the Premier League to do it. That has to be the first priority. But if we are not, we have to find a way of getting things picked up.”
Sunderland will not go for cheap foreign imports any more, because Moyes believes they don’t settle as well, and often don’t provide the dressing-room leadership needed.
He said: “I would like players who understand this region and this part of the world. I would love to say I could actually fulfil that but I cannot promise.
“This region is more suited to British-type players. That should be the starting point – to get back to those roots.”
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Jose Mourinho admits he has sympathy with struggling Sunderland boss David Moyes
Moyes insists he has kept fully focused during a week in which he has been at the centre of a storm over his “slap” comment.
He added: “It has just been normal. I have done the work I have had to do with the players. You have hard weeks. If we were winning, everything would be much easier.”