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The rise of Charlie Wyke

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How Sunderland’s number nine could benefit more than most from the Lee Johnson revolution

Lincoln City v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

He may have only been in charge for just over a week, but Lee Johnson has already brought a much-needed confidence boost to Sunderland. As well as raising the spirits of the fans, he also seems to be going down well with the players; and one striker, in particular, has carried on his very good start to this season.

Charlie Wyke has had more than his fair share of critics since joining Sunderland in 2018. He had a poor record of going AWOL in matches when we probably needed him the most.

Then again, this seems to have been a condition affecting many of our players since dropping into League One.

Despite a sluggish start to the season for the club, Wyke has stepped up to the mark and has shone as a key player. Seven goals in 15 league games – 10 goals in all competitions – have helped to keep us in touching distance of the promotion pack and fired us into the last 16 of the Papa John’s Trophy.

Sunderland v Burton Albion - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

After going a long time struggling in front of goal, Wyke has looked so much more on the ball this season. Both of his strikes in the 4-0 win at Lincoln required being in the right place at the right time and having the composure to beat the keeper from close range.

Throughout our time in this division, few players deserve to enjoy their football more than Charlie Wyke.

His regular contribution of goals has been constant during the season, even through the dire end days of Parky ball. In hindsight, the fact that Wyke could get goals in a team that was set up so negatively really says something about what he can do at this level.

Lee Johnson lined up with a 4-3-3 formation on Saturday. Wyke was given plenty of support from the returning Aiden McGeady and the exciting Jack Diamond, and then when changes were made from Chris Maguire (who, let’s be honest, needed a decent game).

Fleetwood Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

It was a glimpse into the attacking play this squad can produce, and with the likes of O’Nien and Gooch still to return from injury, we have been given another reminder of the depth this squad has when it is led by a manager who knows how to work it.

It has been a long time since we had a striker who reached double figures in the league and didn’t leave in the January transfer window. Wyke has given himself a great chance of doing this and who knows, he might even fire us to promotion at the same time.

It is, of course, still early days of the Johnson regime but the win at Lincoln, a team which had only conceded 10 goals before we rocked up in town, would have sent a statement out to the teams around us.

If our midfield continues to supply Charlie Wyke with the chances they did on Saturday, we may finally get to see the best out of Sunderland’s number nine.