With only one senior forward remaining at the club following Joel Asoro’s departure to Swansea it’s imperative that Sunderland find a goal scorer who can steer us back to the Championship at the first time of asking.
Jack Ross confirmed on Saturday following our draw with Hartlepool that the club are interested in signing 25-year-old striker Charlie Wyke from our promotion rivals Bradford - however, as of writing, no bid has been accepted.
You would assume that Sunderland are in pole position to sign Wyke - afterall, Peterborough signed striker Jason Cummings on loan following a rejected bid for Wyke, and Bolton’s current financial state may stand as a deterrent.
The Boro-born forward’s contract is set to run out in July 2019, which places immense pressure on Bradford who may be forced to sell in order to avoid losing their talisman on a free next year - something they’ll be keen to avoid when decent sums of cash are on offer right now. At this level, you really cannot afford to turn down decent chunks of cash when it’s sat in front of you, and that will certainly aid Sunderland’s cause in all of this.
Throughout the entirety of the last campaign, our lack of firepower going forward was arguably the reason (besides from the horrific goalkeeping and defending from set-pieces) why we were unceremoniously relegated.
Other than Lewis Grabban who left in January, no striker scored more than three goals with James Vaughan, Josh Maja, Ashley Fletcher and Joel Asoro scoring just eight between them - a harrowing statistic when you consider rookie midfielder George Honeyman managed to bag himself seven.
Because of that, the need for fresh blood up top has never been more vital.
Whilst Charlie Wyke is a name many Sunderland fans will not know, in our current situation he is exactly what we need in terms of somebody who is proven at this level and can deliver.
We really do not have the time to take huge gambles on players from abroad, or unproven youngsters – it is simply a case of finding someone who has proven that they can hit the back of the net on a regular basis.
Wyke stands at 6”2, providing Sunderland with the option of a target man who can hold the ball up and link the play between midfield and attack.
Sunderland were, on average, one of the smallest teams in the league last year and were frequently bullied by far less technical sides, so adding players like Wyke to our squad would be a perfect fit when considering the physical demands of League One.
As well as being a huge presence, there can be no doubting that Wyke knows how to strike the ball - he scored fifteen goals and achieved eight assists for a Bradford City side who could only finish mid table last season.
It is crucial Sunderland sign players who are on an upward career trajectory and that still have room to develop, and at twenty-five, Wyke has his best years ahead of him.
With better creativity in behind him and from the flanks, there is no reason why the forward should not be in the race for top scorer in League One next season.
The most crucial aspect of this signing is arguably the players’ experience at this level.
By signing someone who has played in the Football League his whole career and has scored goals regularly, we are showing signs of a more sensible approach in making low-risk signings.
If Sunderland can finalise this transfer it adds more excitement to the new season, as our squad is starting to take better shape with further additions expected, as well as the departure of players who many fans will be glad to see the back of.
For me, signing a player like Charlie Wyke would be an excellent statement of intent for Sunderland’s promotion push. By securing one of the league’s most prolific forwards we can hopefully attract better players as well as convince those who wish to leave that Sunderland is a club worth staying at.