Sunderland players will have a rare opportunity to spend their Christmas at home.
Unfortunately, it’s not exactly come about in ideal circumstances. Over ten players have tested positive for the dreaded pandemic and thus, the Academy of Light is closed and three games have been postponed.
Yet, Lee Johnson and Kristjaan Speakman still need to be switched on.
Sunderland’s main problem this season, specifically under Phil Parkinson, was having players capable of going beyond a defender.
Charlie Wyke has been among the goals but he’s not someone that will get in behind and race away. With Chris Maguire out of form and Aiden McGeady alienated until Johnson arrived, you can see why there has been some attacking pedigree lacking.
Consequently, the new manager wants players capable of stretching the play in January.
Of course, the emergence of Jack Diamond has given Johnson another option to consider but he is still an incredibly raw talent.
Perhaps the help of a Premier League youngster could do the trick?
Potential buyer William Storey admitted last weekend that he has plans to bring in young academy players from Premier League U23 sides if he seals a takeover. Thus, The Sunderland Echo pieced together a list of possible targets.
One name to emerge was Manchester United hotshot Anthony Elanga. Aged 18, they don’t come much younger than that at senior level, but he’d be an astute capture for a Mackems side in dire need of a pace injection.
Elanga is capable of playing through the middle as a striker or on the left-wing and he has the ability to cause havoc wherever he’s played. The teenager has scored six goals and registered three assists in all competitions at youth level this season and would arrive at the Stadium of Light with a glowing reputation.
Speaking during a Manchester United youth game, Leicester television commentators labelled him a “speedball” before Red Devils legend Gary Neville compared the technique of his finish to a certain Thierry Henry.
“He’s a nightmare to play against,” Neville added. If this doesn’t get you excited, nothing will. Elanga is a prestigious talent capable of ripping it up in League One if he’s given enough license.
He’d be an exceptional capture but like all signings, someone must lose out. On this occasion, it would probably be Danny Graham, a forward who hasn’t scored all season.
The experienced striker was signed for a second spell in the summer but hasn’t exactly done very well. Thus Elanga would simply have to take his place in the squad if he joins on loan.