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STRIKER NEEDED? With Sunderland light in attack, here are THREE forwards still without a club

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In the wake of the confirmation of Charlie Wyke’s knee injury, Sunderland’s options in attack are even more limited now than they already were. With that in mind, we’ve explored the free agents list to see if there’s anyone half decent still looking for a club.

Sunderland v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Nicky Maynard

The Winston-born striker was once tipped as one of the brightest young talents in the country, with the likes of Bristol City and then West Ham shelling out seven-figure fees in order to purchase during the formative years of his career.

Things haven’t really gone to plan since former Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce allowed him to leave Upton Park though, and after a poor season at Aberdeen last year Maynard is still without a club. He’s recently been linked with a move to fellow League One club Oxford United, who themselves are struggling with injuries to key forwards.

He’s not been overly injury prone, and despite a lack of goals in the past few seasons he would certainly be another option that could offer Sunderland experience and pace at the top-end of the pitch.

He’s unlikely to set the world alight, but he’s only been without a club since the summer and is still only 31-years-old, with plenty of Football League experience to boot.

Brechin City v Aberdeen - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images

Gabriel Agbonlahor

Remember him? Yes, it’s that bloke who tortured John O’Shea and Wes Brown in 2015 as Sunderland slumped to a 4-0 home defeat at the hands of Aston Villa.

Surely you remember? Gus Poyet sent out a open letter asking us to “stick together” and we consequently got thumped again days later. Yes, it seems strange to think about it now, but this fella was once a very competent Premier League striker, and even has England caps to boot.

The pacey (or at least he used to be) striker these days owns his own fashion label called ‘Six Figures’ which stocks “top quality tracksuits that cost under £70”. With his penchant for a bargain, he’d probably fit right in on Wearside.

There are probably valid reasons for why he has yet to take a route back in to football, but you have to wonder if a fit and motivated Agbonlahor would be a class above at this level. The opportunity to kick-start a career that faltered badly towards the end at Villa may be just the ticket for a player who was once considered good enough to play for his country - it’s certainly something worth exploring.

Sunderland v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Darren Bent

Grrrr... Judas. He makes you want to spit doesn’t he? But would he come back? Probably. Would we want him back? Probably not. Would he score goals? Most likely. Although he helped relegate us last season with Burton Albion, Bent has had a tremendously satisfying fall from grace since he Sunderland all the way back in 2011, and he now finds himself currently without a club.

I won’t lie - as I look through the list of free agent marksmen his name still stands out like a sore thumb. There’s no denying the fact he was once the most deadly finisher in the Premier League, and throughout his long career he has scored goals pretty much wherever he has been.

Would it be worth risking the fume of supporters in bringing him back here on a short-term deal, with it entirely likely that it doesn’t work out? Do the positives outweigh the negatives? With so much good feeling about the place right now, would it be worth conjuring up bad memories? Probably not, but if things ever got desperate there are worse options out there I suppose.

Sunderland v Burton Albion - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images