Although it's entirely likely that Sam Allardyce is planning to place faith in young Polish goalkeeper Max Stryjek as our third choice stopper, there are players currently without clubs that, in the short term, could add balance to the options Sam has available whilst also aiding the development of Jordan Pickford.
This coming summer Sam will have the opportunity to re-evaluate his squad, and until then he'd be wise to bring in an experienced hand that is capable of performing should they be called upon.
Since leaving Blackburn Rovers in the summer Paul Robinson has yet to find himself a club, training earlier this month with Nottingham Forest in a bid to earn a contract. To me, if he's available and willing to come in on a short term deal, it's a no-brainer.
Robinson's career has seen him play over three-hundred top flight games and was England number one for the best part of three years, and provided his fit and ready to come in I'd be tempted to offer him a player-coach role and have him specifically mentor Jordan Pickford. Someone with his experience and ability not working currently seems bizarre to me, especially when he'd be an asset to any side needing back up for their main goalkeepers.
Nottingham Forest manager Dougie Freedman spoke about Robinson last week, indicating that Robinson still has something to offer:
He did not want to retire in the manner that he did, he did not want to go out like that.
He is still training with us, and it will make it easier for me to make a decision watching him in training every day.
I have only one spot and I need to be careful what I do with that one. But he is doing himself no harm with what he is showing us. There is no question that he has the ability.
Robinson was Big Sam's number one at Blackburn when he was manager there, so knows exactly what qualities he can offer his playing squad, both on and off the pitch. Having an experienced leader that Sam can trust in the dressing room, playing or not, can only aid our battle against relegation.
Another experienced hand currently out of contract is former Germany international goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand, who was released by Eintracht Frankfurt this time last year. Frankfurt agreed to part ways with Hildebrand in order to allow him to move to MLS side Seattle Sounders, only to see a move break down as he became involved in a tug of war between Sounders and LA Galaxy which saw him fail to sign for either side.
Despite Hildebrand being quoted earlier this month as saying he was open to the possibility of retirement in the near future, you have to wonder if he still has something to offer a club like ours, at least on a short term basis.
Although he's never played in England his storied career has seen him play for the likes of Valencia, Sporting Lisbon and Schalke, and like Paul Robinson it seems a shame that his experience is going to waste when he could be an asset to a club like Sunderland who have a youngster on the up that may well benefit from training with a proven international footballer on a daily basis.
Stuart Taylor has made a career from being a professional backup option, only starting eighty-eight games in his nineteen year career as a player for the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City, Aston Villa and Leeds United.
Taylor - who is only thirty-five years of age, despite seemingly being around forever - last played in a game for Leeds against Charlton at the end of last season and has been without a club ever since.
Although there are doubts over whether or not Taylor could still cut it at the top level, for the relatively low wages it would cost to bring him on board until the end of the current season it's certainly an option worth exploring. Should the worst occur and both Jordan Pickford and Vito Mannone find themselves injured we'd be faced with a choice between a nineteen year old who has never played professional football in Max Stryjek, and an eighteen year old that has never played professional football in James Talbot. Is it worth the risk when experienced players like Taylor are without a club?
Since leaving Leeds United in the summer of 2014, Paddy Kenny - an Irish international who has played over six-hundred games throughout his professional career, spanning sixteen years - has found himself as a backup option at both Bolton Wanderers and Ipswich Town in the Championship, before joining Bury on a short term deal in November.
Kenny picked up a minor calf injury and chose to end his agreement with Bury in order to aid them financially, something Bury manager David Flitcroft described as 'quite unique', and now with the player fully recovered he is without a team and almost certain to end up somewhere before the transfer window is over.
The main issue that Kenny has faced throughout his career is with his weight, but if he's kept himself in reasonable shape since leaving Bury he may well be an asset to a club like ours, at least in the short term.
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