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STRIKERS NEEDED: With just Josh Maja to call upon, Sunderland know they must step up the search

Sunderland head into their first pre-season game this evening with only one senior front-man available. Should we expect some news regarding further signings up top by the end of this week?

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images

With Wahbi Khazri and Joel Asoro expected to be the next two first team players out of the door at Sunderland, focus now turns to ensuring that reinforcements are made in the attacking department to ensure we don’t leave ourselves short - particularly with pre-season well underway.

The official confirmation of Khazri’s big-money move to Saint-Etienne is expected at some point in the coming hours, whilst it’s not yet known how close Asoro is to officially joining up with Swansea.

Although TeamTALK linked the young Swede to Derby County last night, it’s our understanding that the only significant offer on the table for him has been from the recently-relegated Swans, whose new manager Graham Potter has a proven track record of improving and developing young Swedish players from his time at Ostersunds.

Arsenal v Ostersunds FK - UEFA Europa League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Jack Ross takes his side to Darlington this evening for the first proper kick-about of our pre-season campaign, and with it comes the timely reminder of just how thin our squad is - even in light of the fact we’ve bolstered our side with seven signings so far this summer.

In terms of strikers, the only senior player we’ll have once Asoro eventually leaves is Josh Maja - and at the age of 19 with just seven first-team starts behind him he’s hardly a dependable option at this stage.

Chris Maguire has of course played up top earlier in his career but his most-productive role is as a number ten or out wide, and we also have young hopeful Andrew Nelson, but neither can reasonably be expected to lead the line next season - meaning that finding ourselves a striker or two sooner rather than later is vitally important.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Sunderland’s pre-season programme is, in comparison to previous years, a relatively short one. We have only five games organised before our season opener with Charlton Athletic, so ensuring new players are properly bedded in and up to speed with plenty of time remaining between now and then is key.

Failed attempts to bring Florian Kamberi and Lyle Taylor to the club won’t deter us though, but they should perhaps give us a glimpse of the type of players that the club are targeting in order to fill those roles up top. Big, agile forwards with an eye for goal are what we appear to be looking at, and finding the right type of characters that can really add to what Jack Ross is trying to build will be important.

There’s no need to panic, though. There’s still plenty of time, and I have no doubt that the club are working incredibly hard behind the scenes to ensure we move things along.

By the time we travel to Hartlepool United on Saturday it’d be good to have some positive news coming out about striker signings, so that by the time we head to Grimsby Town on the Tuesday we might be ready to debut a new man alongside the players he’ll be keen to develop an on-pitch relationship with.

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