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Carlton Cole might have to do: Sunderland already paying the price for failure to land a striker

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Still no news on the extent of Lewis Grabban’s injury but no apologies for repeating the same line again and again - Sunderland’s failure to land a deadline day striker is going to cost the club week in, week out.

Sunderland v Derby County - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Sunderland boss Simon Grayson has admitted his squad is lacking options up front after watching his first choice forward Lewis Grabban limp off the pitch last night.

The Black Cats have scored just once in their last four games and have only found the net six times this season with half of those goals coming against Norwich.

Grayson’s inability to land a striker on deadline day was brutally exposed last night. Sunderland played out a drab affair with Nottingham Forest only for a late goal from ‘proven’ Championship hit man Daryl Murphy to be the difference between the two sides.

Fulham v Sunderland - Premier League
It was always going to be him, former Newcastle and Sunderland striker Daryl Murphy returned to haunt the Stadium of Light last night
Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

That Murphy cost Forest a reported £2m really brings home how ridiculous Sunderland’s summer business has been. With Simon Grayson spending just £1.25m on ten new faces, the club’s hierarchy presumably ruled out funds to buy a front-man.

That astoundingly audacious austerity measure may come back to bite Sunderland a mere two weeks since the transfer window shut with the injury to Grabban last night.

When pressed about his deadline day business, the Sunderland boss had argued that the club’s failure to bring in additional firepower did not concern him, but with his first choice striker limping off before half time last time, Grayson conceded his side lack options:

It looks like Lewis [Grabban] tweaked his hamstring. We will see the severity of it this morning. Of course it would be a blow because he is a good player, we are a little bit short in those numbers.

Simon Grayson has hinted he may use the free agent market to bolster his options but each hint has been qualified with the counter-argument that he has Duncan Watmore and Josh Maja still to return from injury.

Sunderland v Crystal Palace - Premier League
Duncan Watmore will begin playing competitive football this week with the U23s
Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

That ‘we’ll have a look’ line is most likely offered as an olive branch to disgruntled fans to be followed by ‘we didn’t fancy anyone’. Simon Grayson has never even seen the purse strings at the Stadium of Light, let alone be allowed to have a little control over them.

And in truth, the free-agent lists make less than enticing reading. Rickie Lambert is past it and would likely demand more than the club are willing to pay in wages. Marouane Chamakh anyone? How about Leon Best?

One name which has cropped up though is Carlton Cole. There were rumours last week that the former West Ham striker was at the Academy of Light to discuss the possibility of undergoing a trial at Sunderland.

Sunderland v West Ham United - Premier League
Carlton Cole playing for West Ham against Sunderland in 2010
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The veteran of seven England caps had a short stint with Celtic after leaving Upton Park in 2015, before heading to Indonesia via a spell in America with Sacramento - which lasted just four games.

Cole’s odd choice of the Indonesian Premier League to see out his days was supposed to reunite the 6ft 3in target man with his former Chelsea teammate Michael Essien. Cole returned to England in the summer claiming he had never been wanted by the manager of Persib Bandung.

Whether there was any truth in that AoL sighting - who knows. But Cole may be better than nothing - or James Vaughan - in the coming games if Grabban is out for a while.