Sunderland have made a much-needed addition to their strikeforce by bringing in Kyle Lafferty on a short-term deal until the end of the season, but it is a signing that comes with its own risks, too.
The positive is Phil Parkinson now has four forward players to choose from, providing him greater scope to experiment by possibly playing two up-front, while also creating more competition for the lone striker role.
Charlie Wyke, a player similar to Lafferty in stature, has started the last six games and helped the Black Cats stay unbeaten in that time, and if the Northern Ireland international can have an impact off the bench and make a case for a starting place then he should help to push his team in the right direction.
His experience of 73 caps, some of which have come in the European Championships, as well as the years he has spent at Rangers and Palermo, suggest that he has the ability to serve Sunderland well.
Parkinson’s job is to get the best out of him. After all, he is in desperate need of goals from his forwards, with Wyke, Will Grigg and Marc McNulty contributing five league strikes this campaign.
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We asked our team of Football FanCast writers for their opinion on the 6 foot 4 striker, and whether he was the right addition to make.
“This move by Sunderland reeks of desperation but it should given their struggles in the third tier of English football. Goalscoring has been their Achilles heel this season, that’s been hugely evident with them ranking second-bottom for goals scored inside the top ten in the division, per WhoScored. Their total of 35 is ten fewer than league leaders Rotherham United.
“The Black Cats’ front line is yet to get firing this season with Charlie Wyke, Will Grigg and Marc McNulty scoring just a few goals between them, but Chris Maguire has started to find form with four goals in as many matches, which goes to show at least one attacker can find the net.
“Lafferty’s overall record in English football is pretty diabolical – 13 goals from 118 appearances in the Championship. That’s hardly encouraging. And at the age of 32, it shows no consideration for the future. Sunderland are still rueing the loss of Josh Maja but this failed forward is hardly the man to fill his void. This is ultimately a hopeless move, one that could cost Parkinson come the end of the season.”
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“This is a deal that fails to tick many boxes for Sunderland. Kyle Lafferty is a proven trouble maker, being sent off on his debut for Norwegian outfit Sarpsborg and being involved in a bust-up with Christophe Berra during his time in Scotland. Craig Levein once joked of how his Hearts side improved in IQ once he left while Ian Wright has even slammed his behaviour for the way he pulled out of the Northern Ireland squad in 2018.
“Phil Parkinson has stressed the need for a positive dressing room atmosphere after his decision to put Aiden McGeady on the transfer list so it seems a baffling move to have added another controversial figure to their ranks. But the negatives don’t stop there. Stewart Donald noted in December that January would bring about signings for the future. But with the 32-year-old on a contract until the end of the season, there is no long-term thinking here. This is a peculiar move from Donald.”
“Making a mid-season swoop for Kyle Lafferty may provide Sunderland with a much-needed boost.
“The Black Cats are still firmly in the race for earning promotion back to the Championship, but such is the nature of League One at the moment, that could all change very quickly. They remain only five points ahead of 15th-placed Shrewsbury, so reinforcements in this January transfer window would be much welcome.
“Getting Lafferty in could be the catalyst for success for Phil Parkinson’s side. His record back in Scotland – 46 goals in 156 league games – is hardly prolific, but his considerable experience in the game may be vital when the going gets tough. At 32, he’s been around the block with 10 different clubs to his name, but he could find a home at Sunderland.”
“Sunderland need a striker this month, but I don’t think Kyle Lafferty is the answer. The Black Cats can’t do much worse than what they already have, but I think somehow they’ve managed it here.
“He’s got an appalling record in recent years having scored just 34 goals since the 2014/15 season despite playing in Scotland.
“To be fair, he’s not their long-term striker as he’s signed on a short term deal and it’s probably time for Sunderland to write off any chances of going up this season. I don’t think he’ll be remembered at the Stadium of Light for years to come, but not many players from this squad will be. This is a prime example of the north-east club settling for mediocrity.”
Meanwhile, there has been another big development at the club in recent days…