By Kevin Phillips

27th Jul, 2021 | 5:00pm

Phillips tells Johnson 'be careful' after Nixon update on Sunderland swoop for Rafferty

Lee Johnson needs to be very careful that he does not upset the balance of his Sunderland squad by signing too many players.

So says ex-Black Cats hitman Kevin Phillips, speaking exclusively to Football Insider after Sunderland were linked with Preston North End’s Joe Rafferty.

The Sun’s Alan Nixon tweeted on 18th July that Sunderland were interested in a loan deal for the 27-year-old full-back.

Quoted by Chronicle Live on 21st July, Johnson later said he would like “six” new signings but would take “four if they [are] high quality.”

The Black Cats have already signed Alex Pritchard, Corry Evans and Jacob Carney on permanent deals this summer as well as Callum Doyle on loan.

And Phillips said Rafferty may well represent a solid option but Sunderland should be wary of disrupting the core of his squad too much.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

He told Football Insider‘s Dylan Childs: “I think sometimes you need to be a bit careful bringing in too many players.

“Then you’ve got to try and keep everyone happy if things are not going particularly well.

“It could possibly be a decent move but I think it’s about trying to get the balance right, and only Lee Johnson can decide that.

“But, with that being said, I think with the signings he’s brought in so far, he’ll be very pleased.”

Rafferty signed for Preston from Rochdale in 2019 and has a year remaining on his Deepdale contract.

He played 26 times across all competitions last season.

In other news, big update on future of player who featured 22 times for Sunderland last term.