There haven’t been too many areas of Sunderland’s game to criticise in recent months.
However, despite the form of Chris Maguire, who has scored five in ten, there is a lack of goals from the out and out forwards.
Charlie Wyke is pivotal to Sunderland’s system which involves playing into the striker. The 27-year-old has won four aerial duels per game, making his presence known on a regular basis.
Against Ipswich last weekend, he was rarely involved in the play. Wyke mustered just one shot while also failing to win a single aerial duel, via WhoScored. What was most alarming, though, was the fact that for the second time in four outings, he didn’t play a single pass to a teammate.
Sunderland went about trying to bolster their forward line in the January transfer window, targeting Burton Albion’s Liam Boyce before he made the switch to Scotland.
Kyle Lafferty was the man who did arrive as he joined the Mackems on a free transfer.
Yet to start a match, now seems like a good time to finally hand the 6 foot 4 striker his big opportunity, especially after the way he helped to change the game last Saturday.
Playing in a pair alongside Wyke, Parkinson changed his formation and it brought the rewards as Chris Maguire netted three minutes after Lafferty’s introduction from the bench.
Assistant manager Steve Parkin noted in his press conference ahead of the Rochdale clash: “Kyle has also got good touch, but he’s a runner as well. He can run down the side of people, and I think the pair of them [Lafferty & Wyke] together could be a threat, I really do.”
With that in mind, it might well be time for Sunderland to heed that advice.
Whether it’s simply giving the Northern Irishman a chance from the off on his own or playing him alongside Wyke, there is clear evidence that he can have a positive impact on the team.
With games coming thick and fast, Lafferty will be needed to perform – this might be the best way of getting him to do so.
In other Black Cats news, they have an UNSUNG HERO to thanks for their mini-revival…