Newcastle youngster Alex Gilliead was mooted as a target for Sunderland recently. The 21-year-old is currently on loan at League One Bradford and has featured 18 times for the Bantams this season. His stint in West Yorkshire is scheduled to finish in January, which explains him being linked with various other sides at the moment.
The Black Cats are one of a number of Championship teams said to be monitoring his progress, with Hull City and Millwall also credited with an interest. The Evening Chronicle suggested all three clubs have recently been to watch him in action at Valley Parade.
To find out if he’s any good we collared Bantams expert Mike Harrison to give us the lowdown - he’s the editor of Bradford fanzine The City Gent, the publication which holds the honour of being the oldest surviving football fanzine in the UK.
Style of play...
Gillead seems to have the ability to glide effortlessly pass opposing full backs with ease. He’s not quite as laid back as Chris Waddle, but very much similar in style. His speed is deceptive and he has the ability to drop a shoulder and cut inside or go out wide and put a decent cross in.
Gilliead is a very unselfish player as he seems always to be looking to pass the ball to a colleague... but, he needs to be more unselfish sometimes and have a shot on goal rather than pass, but this will come as he gains experience.
What’s the crack?
Gilliead was at a Bradford on loan for the latter half of the 2016/17 season, but an injury meant that he wasn't available again till the last game of the season and he was an unused substitute in the Play Off final.
I would guess that it’s Newcastle's decision for his current loan spell to end in January but his parent club allowed him to play in the FA Cup where incidentally he scored his debut goal for the Bantams in round one.
Bradford are keen to extend the loan period till the end of the season and I should imagine they would love to sign the winger on a permanent basis.
Would he be able to make the step into the Championship?
Gilliead will be 22 in a February and he certainly could step up to be a player that wouldn't look out of place for a team in the Championship. Bantams fans will be hoping that he does that with Bradford City next season.
So, Gilliead could do a job for Sunderland no doubt but crossing the divide from Tyne to Wear is always one fraught with hazards.
But Chris Coleman’s side have limited options out wide on the right. Fabio Borini and Jeremain Lens are long gone, Duncan Watmore is out for the season and Callum McManaman has been in and out of the side. Joel Asoro may be knocking on the door but the 18-year-old has been used sparingly, with just 76 minutes in Championship fixtures so far this season.
The January window offers an opportunity to bring in a little pace and trickery. Gilliead could do just that.