Kristjaan Speakman could be the man who holds the keys to Sunderland’s promotion.
If he and Lee Johnson are able to spend sensibly in January then it could well engineer a successful run to the Championship.
That, however, will be easier said than done.
Prospective buyer William Storey revealed last weekend that if he manages to secure a takeover and buy the club from Stewart Donald he will target a very specific area in terms of new recruits.
That happens to be the Premier League. Of course, Sunderland can’t exactly go out and spend money on Premier League talent but what they can do is look at the academy sides where a whole host of talent is currently occupied.
As a result of Storey’s claim, The Sunderland Echo put together a piece looking at the viable options for Johnson and Speakman in January.
One player who could be on their radar is Manchester City midfielder James McAtee. According to the Echo, there will be no shortage of suitors for the 18-year-old if a temporary move is sanctioned next month.
If McAtee does indeed join in January it could be disastrous for Elliot Embleton.
The midfielder spent the vast majority of last season out injured with a serious hamstring injury and as a result, his development has been pushed back considerably.
Embleton has now managed to break into the senior team at the Stadium of Light for the first time but if the Black Cats look to sign a creative player in January that could put his progression on the backburner once again.
This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for the Mackems, though. That’s because McAtee is a bright young player with plenty of attacking qualities. Capable of playing as a centre-forward, out wide, as a number 10 or further back, he is as versatile as Embleton.
However, his numbers are significantly more eye-catching. Compared to fellow Man City midfielder Phil Foden, the teenager has scored six goals and assisted a further seven for the Citizens’ U23 side this season.
Embleton, on the other hand, only ever netted six times for Sunderland at the same level.
It’s clear that McAtee has plenty of potential and signing him on loan in January could add plenty to Johnson’s ranks.