This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Charlie Wyke has been missing through injury for almost all of Phil Parkinson’s reign and the 26-year-old’s absence has limited the Black Cats in multiple ways.
Having only two senior strikers in the squad meant Parkinson’s hands have been tied in terms of the style and formation he can try and implement, and that’s perhaps why he looked to continue Jack Ross’ 4-2-3-1 style early on in his tenure.
That brought limited success, as without a target man like Wyke to play off, attacks broke down and Sunderland were unable to build pressure in the opponents half.
Will Grigg has been expected to hold the ball up and act as a complete striker when that simply isn’t his game, and he has suffered on the goal front as a result with one league strike all season.
There could be good news soon however with Wyke’s return to fitness thought to be close, and it will be interesting to see how Parkinson responds to his availability.
Having Wyke to call upon would allow Sunderland a focal point to their attack, and that means Parkinson could get the wingers to play close to him to either link play or race onto the end of flick-ons.
A similar strategy could be implemented with two strikers up-front, too, and if Grigg had a partner to do the dirty work and create space by dragging defenders out of position then he could begin to flourish.
Wyke only has two goals to his name this year but the Black Cats lost just three of the nine league games in which he has appeared, one of which he was only on the pitch for 45 minutes before injury.
Sunderland only drew a blank in three of those games too, and since that is currently an issue plaguing Parkinson his return would be most welcome.
If Parkinson is able to experiment thanks to having more options then he could find a winning system for the team, and Sunderland may be able to get up and running without relying on the gamble of the transfer market.
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