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How’s Ellis Simms fared since his return to the team?

With two goals in two games, the on-loan Everton striker has made a positive impact for the Lads, so how do our writers assess his form in recent weeks?

Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Gav says…

Impressed probably isn’t the word I’d use so instead I’ll give a more rounded viewpoint on what I’ve seen.

First off, it’s just nice to have a striker in the side again. We did brilliantly without one, all things considered, but the whole gameplan changes completely with a proper centre forward leading the line.

Loads of the focus when we didn’t have one was on goals and that, in my view, was misguided.

We didn’t struggle with scoring goals. Where we missed a striker was in defending and attacking set pieces, and when playing a long ball forward to take the pressure off. It doesn’t matter how good Jack Clarke, Alex Pritchard or Amad Diallo are, they aren’t going to win duels against 6ft plus central defenders.

The return of Simms has given us what we were lacking - he’s aided us on set pieces defensively, he’s given us that long ball option, he’s holding it up and to top it all off, he’s given us goals and assists.

Really though, this is what I expected from Simms when he signed. Not meaning to steal a phrase from Roy Keane’s playbook, but… that’s his job. I’d be asking questions of Simms if he wasn’t doing those things.

You could tell in his first few games back that he wasn’t fit enough but he looks ready now, and his performances up until the point that Ross Stewart returns are crucial - I don’t see us playing two strikers all that often given our wide options and the way that we play, so at this point Simms is playing for his shirt.

If he keeps scoring then he’ll either keep Stewart out of the team or the manager will be forced into finding a new way to play - all Simms can do is keep doing his job, and he’ll be hard to drop from the team.

So yes, whilst I’m happy with how he’s playing at the minute, it’s too early to get carried away. He was signed to score us goals and as long as he keeps doing that I’ll be happy with him.

Birmingham City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - St. Andrew’s Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images

Mitch Marshall says…

I’m a big fan of Simms.

I think his slightly languid running style can mask the fact that in many games he has really put himself about, running the channels, holding up the ball and getting into the box to cause problems for opposition defences.

I missed the Cardiff game just before the World Cup break, where he was apparently very poor, but during the previous game against Huddersfield, I thought he was really impressive, especially for a player returning from injury. He challenged for every ball and helped us to counterattack very effectively.

His finish against Birmingham was also great, and his endeavour was rewarded at the weekend when he bagged our third goal through textbook striker’s opportunism, and a bit of good fortune.

This is all without mentioning that he looked like he could form a great partnership with Ross Stewart before injury struck.

With Stewart hopefully close to making a full return, Simms can become even more successful in a Sunderland shirt as part of one of the most dynamic duos we’ve had in years.

Could he be more consistent? Probably. Do I think he’s great anyway? Absolutely!

Phil West says…

Simms’ recent form has been heartening, and it’s great to see him back among the goals and at the heart of the action after an often-frustrating season so far.

Some of the criticism aimed in his direction after the Reading game- some of it practically accusing him of feigning injury and lacking the heart to play for us- was embarrassing and I’m glad that he’s now starting to show signs of improved form.

Frankly, I don’t care that he doesn’t have the work rate of Ross Stewart or that he doesn’t offer as much of an all-round threat as the big Scot. He’s a different kind of striker, but as we’ve seen recently, he’s nonetheless effective and can certainly make a big impact in this league if we can play to his strengths and get the ball into him in dangerous areas.

What I like about Simms is how alert he is when chances come his way, and his goal against Birmingham, set up by Amad, was a great example.

He didn’t hesitate when the chance arose- he simply picked up the ball, zeroed in on the goal, and BANG, 1-0. That’s Simms in a nutshell. He might not tear around the pitch at 100mph, but as Gav noted, a striker’s primary currency is goals, and two in two is a good start.

Quite how he slots into the team when Stewart does return is another dilemma that Tony Mowbray is going to have to solve, but that’s not a bad thing.

Having Simms and Stewart as your two frontline strikers is a position that a lot of clubs in this league would love to find themselves in, and I’m confident that the Everton loanee will play a big role for us as the season continues.

Birmingham City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images


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