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Has Poyet Finally Found His Solution To The Striker Struggle?

Ahead of Sunday's Capital One Cup Final a lot of the talk and speculation among Sunderland fans in the pubs, or indeed streets of Covent Garden, centred around who Gus Poyet would give the nod to lead the Sunderland line, a role which of late had been Jozy Altidore's but following his exclusion from the squad have we seen a change in Poyet's mindset?

Michael Regan

As Sunderland now approach the business end of the season and with one foot still in the FA Cup, one thing is for sure, Poyet needs goals from his misfiring forwards but what is his best option?

Fabio Borini

Borini has been an interesting addition to the Sunderland squad this season, albeit on loan and has proven adept at digging his side out of the clart at key moments with a number of vital goals. The little Italian was given the nod on Sunday afternoon with Poyet seemingly keen to exploit Borini's fleet footedness and ability to make clever runs in and behind the suspect Martin Demechelis.

Indeed Poyet's plan worked a treat for the game's opening goal as Borini smuggled himself behind City's backline to grab the game's opening goal and even came close to grabbing a second goal before the break with a similar move, although he was probably lucky not have been called offside if we're being honest.

Borini's desire to play through the middle is no secret and Poyet's decision to allow him the opportunity to show that he is able to cause furore in such a role on the grandest stage of them all was nothing short of a masterstroke.
In fact I would go as far as to say that at present, Borini is the most natural goalscorer that the club possess and while the gaffer will surely make a few changes here and there dependent upon the opposition, surely Borini has played his way into top spot now?

Jozy Altidore

Ah Jozy, the very embodiment of a marmite player within the current Sunderland ranks. Let's not beat around the bush here, if you are going to strip down the role of a striker to its most basic, Altidore has certainly come nowhere near close enough to providing the number of goals expected of a top flight centre forward, regardless of whether the club he plays for have found themselves scrapping around at the wrong end of the table.

Of course that would be an extremely narrow-minded view to take on the role of a centre forward, especially in Poyet's setup of choice.

I'm a fan of Altidore, I really am. His buildup play is, at times, fantastic and he has been instrumental in the creation of numerous important goals over the course of the season - his backheel in the buildup to the Adam Johnson goal in the 3-0 battering of Newcastle at St. James' Park being a perfect example. In one, flowing one-two, via a deft flick of his heel, Altidore took at least two Newcastle players out of game and allowed Jack Colback to scamper on to goal and we all know the conclusion there.

Indeed following his performance on Tyneside, Gus Poyet was quick to leap to the defence of his goal-shy forward, keen to stress the goals would come. However it would appear that the Uruguayan's patience has finally worn thin following his absence from the Cup Final.

Altidore's exclusion on Sunday can be viewed, in my opinion at least, in two separate ways. First you could be of the belief that Poyet simply got his tactics spot-on on the day and the guile and craft of Borini was better suited against City's defence than the power and strength that Altidore offers.

Alternatively you may be of the opinion that Poyet was sending something of a message to the misfiring American and his exclusion was the result of the manager trying to get into his striker's head and challenge him to win back his place.

Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle but hope that Altidore accepts the gauntlet set by his manager and looks to play his way back into the side.

Steven Fletcher

The former King of Sunderland's former striking options has certainly had something of a minor fall from grace this term, leaving his throne vacant. This may well be a little harsh on the Scot as his season to date has been a frustrating one, besieged by injury and the constant nagging need for possible surgery.

There is no doubt that on his day Steven Fletcher is easily one of the best goalscorers on the books of any of the teams that find themselves in the relegation dogfight alongside Sunderland. Fletch is quite simply a natural in front of goal.

However, as things stand at present there are questions to be asked of Fletcher's potential contribution to the battle to beat the drop.

Introduced as a substitute at Wembley, Fletcher was presented with a golden opportunity to equalise late on and possibly take the game into extra time. However the forward fluffed his lines, unable to decide upon which peg to strike to ball with and in the end managed something that was a cross between breakdancing and an impression of Bambi on ice.

There is no doubt whatsoever that a fully fit Steven Fletcher would be a vital member of the squad, however with nagging doubts over his fitness I guess it is case of time will tell.

Ignacio Scocco

The latest addition to Sunderland's forward line and unquestionably the dark horse in the fight for a place in the starting eleven. The £4m January signing made his debut in the FA Cup victory over Southampton and whilst looking short of match fitness the Argentinean showed a couple of neat touches.

While Poyet is reluctant to throw his new forward in at the deep end until he is ready for the pace and rigour of the Premier League, the fact that Scocco needs to impress ahead of the summer's World Cup could well work in Sunderland's favour when he is called upon.

A hungry forward with a place in a World Cup squad up for grabs could well be an interesting ace up the sleeve.

Emanuelle Giaccherini

If Scocco is the dark horse in this race then Giaccherini is certainly the wild card. The summer marque signing, if you like, has failed to really make a significant impact and has been subject to almost constant transfer speculation since, linking him with a move back to his native Italy.

Much like Scocco, Giaccherini will certainly have one eye on the summer's World Cup and will be knocking on Poyet's door from now until the end of the season looking for an opportunity you'd imagine.

Giaccherini made it onto the pitch for fifteen minutes on Sunday, a fleeting appearance which rather sums up his time on Wearside, however his brilliant consolation goal away at Arsenal a couple of weeks ago may well have done his chances of getting onto the pitch some good.

Connor Wickham

Young Connor Wickham has proven to be something of an enigma since joining for £8m in June of 2011. Signed to much fanfare and potential the twenty year old has really struggled to live up to the hype despite a handful of encouraging appearances here and there.

Since being brought to Wearside by Steve Bruce, each successor has seen fit not include the young lad in their plans much if at all; O'Neill, Di Canio, Ball and now Poyet have all shunned the striker, which may very well tell its own story.

Danny Graham

Yeah right.

What would you do in Poyet's shoes? Let us know in the comments below!

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