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Looking Ahead: Three young attacking midfielders that could add quality to Sunderland’s squad

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With Gooch and Maguire working wonders on the pitch, Sunderland are flying. However, this January Phil Parkinson could be tempted to add depth to his attack - these young players might well fit the bill.

Exeter City v Northampton Town - Sky Bet League Two Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

In recent weeks both Lynden Gooch and Chris Maguire have been nothing short of superb. In his last five games Gooch has managed 4 goals and 1 assist whereas Maguire has managed 4 goals and 3 assists - seriously impressive returns from Sunderland’s forwards.

Both players are benefiting from being afforded roles that allow them to move freely around the final third of the pitch when in possession - enabling them the chance to find the space and time needed to try and create opportunities for the side, or get into a goalscoring position.

Between them in the last five games Gooch and Maguire have managed to attempt 25 key passes with 17 of them being accurate. They are the side’s principal creators and goalscorers and our success essentially hinges upon their performances.

That being said, one major concern for the side is the risk of one, or both, of Gooch and Maguire succumbing to injury. Sunderland don’t really have the personnel in reserve to seamlessly carry on with their current tactical plan other than Elliot Embleton who is returning from injury.

This January window, Sunderland could do well to add some depth to their side in this position whilst also looking at developing young talent capable of being moulded into a top player.

Milton Keynes Dons v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Charlie Kirk

Team: Crewe Alexandra

Age: 22

Apps: 26

Goals/Assists: 4/11

Charlie Kirk is a thoroughly exciting young player, so it’s rather bizarre that his manager has had to come out in recent weeks and ask elements of the Crewe fanbase to stop giving the young playmaker abuse. Some fans are said to be critical of the player’s apparent reluctance to get stuck in, but as an attacking midfielder you’d argue that’s not necessarily in his remit.

With 150 league games to his name, Kirk is an experienced player for someone so young. Often labelled as a confidence player, Kirk is a tricky forward who likes to get at the opposition - much like Lynden Gooch. That being said, Kirk plays on average more than twice as many key passes per game (2.1) when compared to Gooch (0.9), which would definitely be a positive if he was to make the move to Wearside.

With a decent eye for goal and a really impressive number of assists, Kirk could be an interesting option for Sunderland.

Crewe Alexandra v Aston Villa - Carabao Cup - Second Round - Alexandra Stadium Photo by Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images

Randell Williams

Team: Exeter City

Age: 23

Apps: 27

Goals/Assists: 3/10

Another exciting young talent, Randell Williams has the pace, trickery, and distribution needed to be successful in the role currently occupied by Lynden Gooch and Chris Maguire.

Comfortable with both feet, Williams manages almost 2 key passes per game - similar to Chris Maguire’s statistics. However, on average Williams managed around 1.6 successful dribbles per game - almost as much as Gooch and Maguire combined.

Comfortable at pressing high up the pitch, Williams could provide the perfect foil for Sunderland’s current attacking duo.

His quick feet and intelligent play will undoubtedly lead to a transfer up the footballing pyramid; linked with several Championship clubs, Sunderland would do well to land the former Watford and Crystal Palace youth player this January.

Exeter City v Bury - Sky Bet League Two Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images

Tom Lowery

Team: Crewe Alexandra

Age: 21

Apps: 26

Goals/Assists: 5/3

Back to Crewe again, and Tom Lowery is another graduate of the famous Crewe Academy who is turning heads this season.

Capable of playing anywhere in midfield, Lowery has all the assets needed to move further up the pitch. Creating 9 big chances this season, almost as much as Gooch and Maguire combined, the diminutive midfielder plays on average 1.3 key passes per game - somewhere between Gooch and Maguire’s numbers.

Lowery is also confident on the ball, and gets on average 62 touches per game and successfully dribbles with 78% of his attempts at moving forward with the ball.

In all, Lowery is a talented young player who would be a good addition to Sunderland’s squad.

Crewe Alexandra v Morecambe - Sky Bet League 2 Photo by Alan Hayward/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images