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Can Will Grigg kickstart his Sunderland career?

With Lee Johnson utilising Will Grigg more than his predecessor, we ask our panel if the Northern Ireland international can still be a success at the Stadium of Light. What do you think?

Sunderland v AFC Wimbledon - Sky Bet League One Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Gary Engel says...

Lee Johnson may be able to galvanise the club between now and the end of the season, he may be able to get the team playing some reasonably attractive football, but the reinvention of Will Grigg in a Sunderland shirt? That to me is a bridge too far.

Grigg’s confidence is shot. I’ve seen a number of players over years arrive with a good reputation only to hit a brick wall on Wearside. Grigg has excelled as a goalscorer at this level before, firing Wigan to promotion the season before his move to Sunderland, but the only thing he has done here consistently, is fluffed his lines and missed sitters.

Part of the problem is expectation, he was bought to replace the best young striker we have had since the likes of Michael Bridges or Marco Gabbiadini. In Josh Maja, few people recognised just how good he was because he made finishing look so easy from improbable positions.

The Northern Ireland international will never be that type of player, he needs the ball into his feet with the goal at his mercy - but even then he is unlikely to have the time or be given the concessions needed to find the Midas touch. The smart money, in the ideal world, would be to move Will Grigg on in favour of a hungry young forward, most probably on loan, ready to make a name for himself.

Sunderland v AFC Wimbledon - Sky Bet League One Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Philip West says...

The debate about Will Grigg has rumbled on for what feels like an eternity, and as we attempt to haul ourselves out of League One, he remains one of the most polarising players at the club.

There are two distinct trains of thought on Grigg: that he remains a top-quality League One striker who has always found himself the victim of a system that doesn’t suit him, or that he has become a shadow of the player who ripped it up for Wigan, and who simply doesn’t want to play for Sunderland.

In my opinion, it is time to bid Grigg farewell, and if at all possible, to get it done this January. After two years, three managers, and countless musings of ‘he just needs a run of games/one goal to spark him into life’ - the reality is that he hasn’t remotely resembled a player who is going to score the goals that we desperately need to fire us to promotion.

Sunderland v AFC Wimbledon - Sky Bet League One Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

As of right now, he has seemingly fallen victim to injury, but he has also had countless chances to make himself our first choice striker since he joined the club, and has not taken a single one of them.

I genuinely believe that he didn’t want to join the club in the first place, and his body language over the past two years has hinted at a player deeply unhappy in his surroundings. I have sympathy for him on one level, but ultimately, we can’t afford to carry passengers at this crucial stage of the season.

Dynamic, pacey, prolific strikers are what we need to be targeting in the transfer market going forward, Grigg doesn’t fit that profile, and I genuinely think it would be best for all parties if he moved on, hopefully with the club’s assistance, and we can close the door on what has been a forgettable two year spell on Wearside for him.

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

Joseph Tulip says...

Will Grigg has been an enigma ever since we signed him in a desperate, high-price bid to secure promotion. But despite the price tag, and his impressive record at this level, Grigg has not come close to filling the boots of the man he replaced, Josh Maja.

Offloading Grigg in his current standing would mean making a substantial loss on the £3-4 million we reportedly paid for him. While it would be appealing to move him on, and start afresh with a new striker, I think it’s time for one more roll of the dice.

Grigg has been favoured by Lee Johnson when fit and available. If Johnson sees him as part of his plans, then we should back our new head coach.

Sunderland v AFC Wimbledon - Sky Bet League One Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Grigg was arguably a Stewart Donald signing who has never been an out-and-out regular in the side. Perhaps a manager who firmly believes in him and wants to play to his strengths can finally get the best out of Grigg.

I would like to give him the remainder of this season with a proper run in the side, instead of giving up on an asset and making a substantial loss.

Despite his low confidence and poor form, I would keep Grigg for now. Only if it emerged that he genuinely doesn’t want to play for Sunderland would I move him on before the season’s end.

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