Sunderland may be on a current run of good form but there is a lot they need to do in the transfer window in order to turn their side into a promotion-winning team.
Phil Parkinson has identified the problems in his squad, one of which was to remove the bad influence of Aiden McGeady, but it appears that others could also be heading for the exit door, such as Marc McNulty.
The Reading loanee hasn’t hit the heights expected of him in front of goal so far, with just two league goals, but he isn’t alone in that underperformance, with Charlie Wyke and Will Grigg also contributing just four league goals between them in 2019/20.
For the latter, it is a severe disappointment considering the Black Cats paid £4m for him 12 months ago, not to mention he has twice scored the goals to help Wigan to promotion from the same division.
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Due to the failures of the strikers at his disposal, Parkinson has wasted little time in diagnosing the issue, and brought in Kyle Lafferty in an attempt to rejuvenate an attack that has scored 35 goals in 24 league games – the third-lowest amount amongst teams in the top ten.
Perhaps more pertinent is the type of player the Northern Ireland international is. At 6 foot 4 tall he has built a career as a strong target man, winning 46% of his aerial duels in 2018/19, making him very similar to how Wyke performs for Sunderland, having averaged winning 5.3 aerial duels per game this campaign.
Wyke has started in every one of the Black Cats’ current six-game unbeaten run, and it seems Parkinson is fond of the way he plays, meaning a lone striker able to link play with two wingers could be his preferred style moving, a system that hasn’t worked with Grigg’s poaching instinct.
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Added to that, Parkinson has also shown an interest in Gary Madine, another tall striker who is more similar to Wyke than Grigg, and that means the Black Cats boss may utilise the 28-year-old even less than he does currently.
Parkinson stated in November that Grigg is an important player for him, yet the striker has started just two league games since then, both of which Sunderland lost, which indicates he is unlikely to get back into the team anytime soon.
Salford and Swindon are both interested, too, with Alan Nixon suggesting a loan move could take place, and with the north-east outfit also monitoring Liam Boyce it could signal the end of the Northern Irishman’s time at the Stadium of Light – at least for a short while.
Elsewhere, our team of Football FanCast writers have been analysing whether Sunderland have made the right move in their latest recruit.