Between the Lines: Jack Ross laughs off prospect of playing two strikers at Sunderland

Sunderland manager Jack Ross has laughed off the idea of playing two strikers at the Stadium of Light.

The Black Cats have scored in every game this season – they are the only team in the top four divisions to do so – but they have struggled to score more than once in recent outings, doing so just once in their last nine games.

What’s the word?

Sunderland striker Josh Maja left the club for Bordeaux in the January transfer window.

The news was a major blow to Ross, who saw a striker who had scored 15 goals in League One this season head for France.

A deal to sign Tottenham Hotspur striker Kazaiah Sterling on loan was secured in the wake of that move, along with a £4million deal for Will Grigg, signed from Wigan Athletic.

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And Ross says that there is little chance that he will revert to a two-up formation, though he accepts that he must find a way to make the Black Cats less predictable.

“It’s a nonsense statement that is thrown out by some people,” he said, per the Chronicle.

“The whole thing about two strikers makes me laugh whenever I hear it.

“If you’re playing two strikers and four midfielders, is that more attacking than playing a striker and two wingers?

“Because two wingers and a striker, that’s three attackers in total.”

He added: “Earlier in the season we were probably a bit more unpredictable because we had to chop and change so much, whereas now we are more settled.

“We have to assess whether there is now more familiarity with what we do and whether that has made it more comfortable for the opposition.

“So we’re looking at it and searching for ways that we can be a little bit less predictable.”

Grigg to lead the line

It appears that Grigg will lead the line after his move and that may well be the best thing for him to do.

He has genuine League One pedigree, scoring a total of 96 goals in 260 appearances in the competition, compared to just nine in 50 in the Championship.

And throwing him in as something of a wildcard will help Ross overcome the club’s current predictability.

Add into the fact that Sterling, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, has something to prove away from north London and Ross appears to hold all the cards needed to get the Black Cats firing again.

They are currently fourth in League One, nine points behind leaders Luton Town, but they also have three games in hand, and they appear to have brought in the exact reinforcements needed to close that gap.