Rangers striker and former Sunderland academy graduate, Martyn Waghorn, has been linked with a move back ‘home’ to Wearside on-and-off for much of the summer. But with the Gers now said to be open to offers for the 27-year-old, that gossip has intensified.
Whilst ‘home’ is actually a few miles further up the east coast in South Shields where Waghorn was born, the forward who entered the Sunderland youth system at the age of eight may be a timely addition for a fan base reeling from the continued fall-out and accusation lingering on from last season.
Midfielder Darron Gibson’s drunken finger pointing at certain members of the Black Cats squad may have reopened a festering wound, but the reality is that Sunderland have a game on Friday night - a very important one - and could do with a boost.
Saturday’s ‘friendly’ game with Celtic in which Simon Grayson’s side were comprehensively outplayed highlighted not only the clear deficiencies in the Sunderland defence, but also a hit-and-miss ability to grab a goal - particularly with the soon-to-be permanent absence of Jeremain Lens and perhaps Wahbi Khazri.
Summer signing James Vaughan looked lively enough as a central striker, but he has proved unable to find the net in pre-season and despite working hard, the 29-year-old was feeding off scraps on Saturday and missed his second penalty of the summer.
Lewis Grabban showed sufficient against Celtic to suggest he deserves the starting position up front against Derby this week, but Sunderland still need additional firepower. But would Waghorn bring sufficient to bang in a few goals in the Championship?
Most Sunderland fans will consider a move for the former England-U21 international somewhat underwhelming right now. The Black Cats are crying out for a moderate show-piece signing of the summer following a succession of players arriving in their late-20s on cheap or loan deals with a career in need of reviving.
Waghorn departed Sunderland in 2010 after making just six appearances for the first team. His spell on Wearside had encompassed a couple of loan stints at Charlton and Leicester before he signed permanently for the Foxes in a deal worth up to £3m.
Once established as a fully-paid up member of the Leicester side Waghorn never quite lived up to the promise he had shown as a teenager during his initial loan deal and he couldn't hold down a regular starting place under Sven-Goran Eriksson.
Further loans to Hull and Millwall followed before the South Tyneside lad spent three seasons at Wigan from where he was plucked by Rangers in 2015.
Waghorn has scored 44 goals in 78 games during his Ibrox career and he has history of playing with James Vaughan whilst at Leicester. The Daily Mail report that the forward, who can play across the front-line and bring options as to where he operates, would be ‘keen’ on a return to Sunderland.
But, with most of us largely losing sight of how he’s really been doing since he departed Wearside and what he could bring right now, here’s a Rangers viewpoint from Jimmy Sinclair from ‘Gers site Got The Battle Fever On:
Going into his third full season at Ibrox, Waghorn splits opinion amongst Rangers fans.
A goal-laden debut season was followed up with an inconsistent, injury interrupted second term.
Pedro Caixinha's summer signing spree has pushed Waggy down the pecking order but he's still on the fringes of Caixinha's squad.
He'll offer something a bit different, and definitely isn't anywhere near as bad as the social media echo chamber will have you believe, and a move at this point would probably suit all parties.
A fit, motivated Waghorn would be a good addition to Simon Grayson's squad and won't cost the Earth either.
Waghorn is out of contract next summer at Ibrox and free to sign a pre-contract agreement with English sides from January so he would be available for a modest fee.
He may well be worth a punt. But what do you think?
Martyn Waghorn - Solid or Underwhelming?
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