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Growing calls amongst Sunderland fans for the return of Will Grigg - what should Parky do?

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Having been banished to the wilderness since the turn of the year, Will Grigg returned to Sunderland’s bench for the game at Coventry last weekend. Some fans want to see him come back into the team - what should Parky do?

Shrewsbury Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

There seem to be growing calls amongst fans for Will Grigg to get another chance in the team, this after he was seemingly isolated from the squad altogether by Phil Parkinson after the turn of the year. I think it’s an exercise in futility when all is said and done.

That said - could you blame the manager for wanting to try?

It’s shockingly apparent that Sunderland lack one of the most basic assets demanded of a football team: a fit and firing striker. Without this crucial cog the great wheel of football simply struggles to turn. When you find yourself 1-0 down to Coventry in the dying moments of an important fixture, this is an example of that wheel grinding to a halt.

Frankly, if this analogy were followed to its natural conclusion, the broken cogs that are our “strike force” (loosely used) would be melted down for scrap and replaced with shiny new ones, and the machine would breathe relief as it is finally allowed to pursue its purpose.

Unfortunately, unlike machine parts, football players have ironclad contracts that are secured on what are mere estimations of their potential contribution, rather than given deservingly as payment due for services rendered. It’s the equivalent of paying eBay a set fee and being sent whatever Chinese replica of the real deal was left gathering dust in the basement before you were fool enough to cry out how desperate you were to buy something, anything, without any honest consideration for the logical end result.

Oxford United v Sunderland AFC - Carabao Cup Round of 16 Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Well worn analogies aside, Will Grigg has shown absolutely nothing in his time with Sunderland AFC that demonstrates he is the man we need. There’s only so long you can dine out on the form of years gone by, and that ran out within three months of his signing a contract on Wearside. Spurts and flashes of decent - not great - ability hold no weight of their own when they appear once in a blue moon.

It could be argued that Grigg doesn’t get enough time on the pitch, particularly in this relatively ‘new’ system of Parkinson’s, and so has no opportunity to demonstrate the change he could potentially bring.

Trouble with that is that as fans we see these players once or twice a week, but the rest of the time they’re dutifully observed by the manager and his staff. It’s reasonable to say that Parkinson and co spend most of the week with the players in training, with the odd day or afternoon off here and there.

Surely if Grigg had demonstrated an ability beyond what is currently expected of him, we would have seen that commitment backstage translate pitchside?

No, I fear that the manager sees very little promise in Grigg, and if any club were sane enough to come close to our previous valuation of the man, he would have been out the door before you could say “I have legitimately never seen Will Grigg on fire”.

Parkinson has to do something to remedy this striker problem, that much is an absolute. I don’t envy him the tools at his disposal to do so, though. Strikers who can’t strike, runners who can’t look up, holders of the ball losing it more often than keeping it.

It’s not a pretty sight, our forward line. If it weren’t for the extra curricular efforts of a couple of choice players we wouldn’t be anywhere near the top of the table right now, and if all we have to depend on is the mercurial nature of midfield goals, we’d best dig in and get comfortable because our midfield alone can’t fire us out of this league.