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Sunderland could unearth Ellis Simms’ heir in Max Thompson

Sunderland have taken little time to adapt to life in the Championship this season as they sit fifth in the table heading into the first international break of the campaign.

Tony Mowbray’s men held Watford to a 2-2 draw in their last outing in the second tier and have won four of their opening ten matches in the division.

The Black Cats have been impressive in front of goal with 16 strikes in ten matches, and only three teams in the league have scored more goals than them.

This has, partly, been down to the form of their front two for the majority of the season so far; Ross Stewart and Ellis Simms. The former has scored five goals in seven outings in the Championship, whilst the on-loan Everton gem has found the back of the net three times in eight appearances.

They have proven that they have the quality to make a big impact at the top end of the pitch and are a nightmare for opposition defenders to mark.

Simms, who scored ten times in 19 League One matches on loan at Blackpool in 2020/21, is on loan until the end of the season and it remains to be seen whether or not the Black Cats will be able to, or want to, sign him permanently.

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This means that Mowbray may have one eye on what he wants to do with the striker role next to Stewart heading into the 2023/24 campaign.

Whilst snapping the 21-year-old up on a permanent basis may be one option for Sunderland, unearthing a young talent from the academy could be one way to find Simms’ heir next year.

20-year-old forward Max Thompson joined the club from Burnley in the summer and he could be a future star for the Black Cats under Mowbray.

The youngster, who can play out wide or through the middle as a striker, scored 17 goals in 41 Premier League 2 matches for the Clarets and made his Premier League debut during his time at Turf Moor.

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Sunderland striker Ross Stewart in action

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After his move to the Stadium of Light was confirmed, journalist Josh Bunting hailed the young gem. He Tweeted:

“Max Thompson lovely bit of business that from Sunderland. A real natural goal-scorer at 21’s level going to take him a wee bit of time to get into the first team picture but certainly going the right way. Five goals in his last two games, so intelligent in the box. Clinical #SAFC.”

The dynamo has lived up to the hype this season as he is currently sitting on three goals and one assist in three Premier League 2 appearances for Sunderland’s U21s.

Thompson has shown, for Burnley and now the Black Cats, that he has the potential to be a regular goalscorer at first-team level if he can make the step up to doing it outside of academy football.

Therefore, he could be the heir to Simms’ throne up front after the forward returns to Everton next summer, providing Mowbray is able to develop him into being ready for the senior team by the 2022/23 campaign.