Lee Burge - Coventry City
Not many Sunderland supporters will be aware of Lee Burge, but they should be.
The Coventry City goalkeeper made his way into the ‘League Two team of the season’ earlier this month having had an outstanding campaign thus far with the Sky Blues, and at the age of 25 he’s more than ready for a move to a bigger club.
Having played well over 100 professional games so far in his career, Burge has proven himself as a capable pair of hands in both League One and Two and has been first choice at the Ricoh Arena in each of the last two seasons.
Sunderland will most certainly be in the market for a keeper or two in the summer and the mistake that Chris Coleman mustn't make again is to go for someone perceived to be a safe option - the last three we’ve signed all arrived here with a tonne of ‘experience’, yet it would be fair to say that they’re the worst trio of goalkeepers that this football club has ever had.
It’s essential we sign players that would see Sunderland as a step up. Though Coventry could very well be playing in the same league as us next season, Burge has just a year left on his deal and his cash-strapped side may be tempted to sell him should a decent offer for his services land on the table.
RR’s Verdict: The best ‘keeper in League Two? Not sure we can sniff at that.
Mohamed Eisa - Cheltenham Town
23-year old Sudanese striker Mohamed Eisa has all the capabilities required to make it higher up the food chain in the Football League.
Having fully embraced his tremendous opportunity to prove himself whilst with Cheltenham Town, he’s primed for a well-earned move elsewhere in the summer and there will undoubtedly be interest in him from both Championship and League One clubs.
Eisa has scored 22 goals in his debut season in the Football League and has shown no signs of letting up any time soon, even winning the League Two player of the month award for March. To say that he’s completely over-exceeded expectations this season at the Whaddon Road would be something of an understatement.
We spoke to our pals from the Cheltenham Town Fans group about Eisa and what the future holds for him, and it’s safe to say that they have high hopes for the man from Khartoum:
Mo has been one of very few positives during this campaign. After a decent pre-season, he came to the club expecting to be our fourth choice striker. The season couldn’t have started better for him with a goal on his debut and then some top class finishes in the cup against Oxford.
There was a massive fear he would burn out as the season went on from not playing at this level before, but he has just kept plugging away and scoring for fun.
Whenever he has the ball in the box you just have no doubt he is going to tuck it away - he’s extremely confident on the ball and has the tenacity to take on his man.
He scored his first hat-trick against Port Vale earlier this year and managed to earn himself a nomination for the ‘League Two player of the year’ award.
Recently he’s found himself alone in a 4-5-1 which has hindered his progress and has failed to score as support has dried up. His strength was poor at the start of the season and was shrugged off the ball quite easily but fortunately he has progressed and became stronger.
I have absolutely no doubt he could easily cut it at a championship club, and he’ll either end up there or in League One if someone can afford him.
He’s got a promising future in the game.
Prior to arriving at Cheltenham he scored 57 goals in 100 games for Greenwich Borough, and having successful came through the rough and tumble of non-league football he’s proven he’s both physically and mentally up to playing in the professional game.
The Robins made sure that they protected their investment not long after he arrived and he signed a contract extension until 2020 last August, meaning that he might not come cheap.
That said, you have to look at other recent non-league success stories like Jamie Vardy, Danny Ings, Yannick Bolasie and Charlie Austin and wonder if Eisa could perhaps be headed down the same path.
Someone’s going to take a chance on him eventually, so why not us?
RR’s Verdict: Young, powerful, clinical, cheap - the type of gamble we should take.
Jordan Willis - Coventry City
If Chris Coleman plans to sign players in the summer that better suit his favoured 5-3-2 system he’ll be on the look out for defenders that have already shown they’re capable in a back five - and one such prospect is Coventry’s Jordan Willis, a man who is adept both through the middle and on the right hand side.
West Midlands-born Willis is a product of the Coventry City academy, and though he’s only 23-year old he actually made his debut seven years ago - in a 4-2 league defeat at the hands of Southampton back when the Sky Blues were still a Championship club.
He was in the team that won the EFL Trophy last season at Wembley, his biggest achievement to date in his relatively arduous career as a Coventry City player, and he scored earlier this year in the FA Cup third round as his side knocked Premier League Stoke City out of the competition.
Willis has considerable Football League experience for a man of his age and though he isn’t the biggest he’s proven himself at the heart of Coventry’s defence, joining his team mate Lee Burge in the ‘League Two team of the season’ which was announced earlier this month.
RR’ Verdict: Versatile, experienced and still very young. It’s a yes!
Enzio Boldewijn - Crawley Town
With pace, height and power sorely lacking in Sunderland’s attack we may well find ourselves on the lookout for a trickster on the cheap that has proven themselves already in the Football League.
One such name to be constantly linked with a move to the Championship and League One is Crawley Town’s Enzio Boldewijn, a winger that started out his professional career at FC Utrecht with current Sunderland goalie Robbin Ruiter.
The Dutchman has been in sensational form this season - starting 41 games and scoring nine goals - and has often been compared to West Ham winger Michail Antonio due to his physique and aerial ability whilst playing out wide.
Sam Jordan, the Chairman of the Crawley Town Supporters Alliance, told Roker Report:
Enzio is a quick, strong and powerful winger who more often than not chips in with important goals. He gets up and down the pitch with ease and has also played for us as a striker, though typically he operates on the right hand side of a 4-2-3-1 formation.
I have no doubt whatsoever that he’s capable of playing in the Championship when he is on top form, but can go missing at times, so needs to work on his consistency.
Having kick-started his career under the tutelage of Harry Kewell, Boldewijn has been thoroughly impressive this season and with his contract due to expire at the end of June it’s expected that he’ll receive plenty of interest both from teams here in England and abroad.
RR’s Verdict: He’s only 25 and will have learned much at Crawley. On a free it could be a chance worth taking - and with his pace and power he’d add an extra element to an attack that more often than not could use an outlet when getting us out of trouble.
Jayden Stockley - Exeter City
Another young man tipped to make it to the top is former Aberdeen striker Jayden Stockley, a player that Exeter City broke their transfer record to sign last summer when they brought him back south of the border after his stint in the SPL.
Stockley is only 24-year old but has played for no fewer than TEN senior sides so far in his career, though most of them were loan spells whilst on the books of Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth.
The 6”3 forward made his debut for the Cherries back in 2009 when they were in League Two, hilariously making the headlines after Eddie Howe had to request permission from his school for him to play in games during the week after his side suffered an injury crisis.
Having earned himself a boat-load of experience at a variety of clubs in recent years he’s had a real standout season this year and has managed to score twenty-one goals in all competitions for the Grecians.
RR’s Verdict: His experience at a young age and good recent form goes massively in his favour. Has been clinical this season and physically very capable. If the fee is good there’ll be other League One clubs in for him - no reason why we can’t be one of them.