Kallum Higginbotham - Dunfermline
Players that are reaching their prime are the sort that Sunderland should be looking at this summer. If the words of Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven are echoed by our new boss, then the days of us overpaying for spent talent are long gone.
Kallum Higginbotham is a player who has been well liked at almost every club he’s played for in Scotland but, playing under former Sunderland winger Allan “Magic” Johnston at Dunfermline, he finally appears to be enjoying the most productive spell of his career.
Last year he tallied 10 goals from the wing as his side finished fourth in the Scottish Championship. He’s fast, tricky and full of confidence - but far from a luxury player, he doesn’t lack the work ethic needed for the lower leagues.
A quick look through his collection of goals he scored over the years whilst in Scotland will show everything you need to know about this Salford-born winger - he’s very underrated, and exactly the type of footballer we should be looking to recruit.
Gavin Reilly - St. Mirren
Although the 25-year-old striker had a bit of a dry spell towards the end of St Mirren’s Championship-winning season, his move to Paisley last summer certainly seems to have reignited his stagnant career, finishing the season with eleven goals in twenty seven starts.
Highly rated as a youngster at Queen of the South, he was picked up by Hearts when he was just out of his teens and - coupled with Hearts’ off-the-field problems - he struggled for game time and consistency, hitting the net only five times over two seasons.
He also has a bloody good music taste if his Instagram is anything to go by - anyone who lists Frightened Rabbit and Biffy Clyro are good in my book.
A loan move to Dunfermline didn’t work out for him, but once Jack Ross signed him up to a one year deal in the summer of 2017 he quickly regained his eye for goal and was pivotal in his side’s success last term, ending the season in the Scottish Championship team of the year.
We need strikers, and Reilly is one player that Ross will no doubt be keen to bring with him.
Lewis Morgan - Celtic
Rumours up in Scotland are that Jack Ross’ former prodigy is available for loan again this coming summer, with former club St. Mirren amongst many others interested in taking the talented youngster on a temporary deal.
The 21-year-old recently joined Scottish champions Celtic from the Buddies in January before being loaned back to help in St. Mirren’s successful promotion challenge, where he was duly awarded with the Championship player of the year award.
But it’s still safe to say that the best is yet to come from the Scotland Under-21 international, such is his undoubted potential.
Tipped for a full Scotland cap in the near future, both club and player may see fit to take up the option of another loan rather than allow him to struggle for game time in a team that is currently dominating Scottish football - and Sunderland could be the ideal destination for a young man that will be desperate for exposure to bigger crowds and tougher expectations to further elevate his growing reputation.
Kyle Maggenis - St. Mirren
The 19-year-old central midfielder is widely known as Ross’ favourite from his successful spell as Buddies boss and he’s already been linked with a move to the Stadium of Light, with some tabloids claiming a deal is already close - although, we can assume that may be a little far fetched, with his seat in the manager’s office not even warm yet.
Valued at close to £1m, it’s likely we would be smashing St. Mirren’s highest ever fee received record if we were to make a move for him. The Glaswegian youngster appeared for Scotland under-20s in the Toulon tournament and has been lauded for his powerful midfield displays in St Mirren’s engine room this term.
His style of play is not too dissimilar to our star man Paddy McNair and should the new regime make a move, it’s unlikely the newly promoted St. Mirren will be able to stand in his way. Mark this as down as “most likely to happen”.
Liam Smith - Hearts
Another who featured in the Scottish Championship team of the year under the tutelage of Jack Ross is young Hearts full back Liam Smith.
The defender is another who has been recognised as a future Scottish international, with our new manager already stating he believes the 21-year-old to be a “consistently good performer” and a player that has “further improvement in him” - stating that he will “get even better.”
Predominately a right back, he can also operate on the opposite flank and first rose to prominence as an 18-year-old at Tynecastle back in 2015.
With Billy Jones leaving the club this summer, Ross could see Smith as the ideal replacement and someone who can vie with Donald Love for a first team slot.