Sunderland, despite losing their former talisman in Ross Stewart this summer to new divisional rivals Southampton, are dreaming of a Premier League return already into the relative infancy of this season – the Black Cats occupying the final playoff spot in the Championship after 16 matches played, Tony Mowbray’s youthful side exciting and enthralling Stadium of Light supporters with memorable victories already.
Big wins against the likes of the aforementioned Saints and Birmingham City were secured without an out-and-out striker even getting on the score sheet – the midfielders all getting in on the action in the 5-0 win over Russell Martin’s Southampton, including young Black Cats sensation Chris Rigg who rounded off the emphatic win with the fifth goal on the day.
Despite the rest of the team getting in on the goalscoring action, Sunderland could look to this upcoming January transfer window as a way to boost their forward line and add reinforcements up top.
Arguably, Mowbray has never replaced the out-going prolific nature of Stewart – the Scotsman scoring 40 goals in 80 appearances for Sunderland, before moving on this summer.
Here are three strikers Mowbray could look to bring into the club to finally fill the gap left behind by Stewart…
Rumours keep pointing in the direction of Luciano Rodriguez joining the Stadium of Light this January, the young Argentinian forward already being billed as a like-for-like Stewart replacement.
The Uruguayan youngster is impressing in his native country with Liverpool Montevideo currently, scoring seven times from 28 games in all competitions.
Deployed as a right winger and a centre forward for his club, Rodriguez’s potential addition to the squad in this transfer window could also give Mowbray another option down the wings if Jack Clarke was tempted by moving on to a Premier League suitor, as has been reported since the summer market.
Rodriguez also fits the mould of what Sunderland like to attract with arrivals into the building – boasting an average age of 23.3 on the pitch this season, the division’s youngest – so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see this move come to fruition in the months to come.
Sunderland could, however, go down the route of bringing in an established and experienced EFL sharpshooter on the contrary, Colby Bishop more than capable of making the step up to the Championship based on his goalscoring exploits in League One so far this season.
Playing in the lower reaches of the English football pyramid with Accrington Stanley before making the major move to Portsmouth this summer, Bishop has taken to the pressure of being the leading man for a League One promotion hopeful in his stride.
The 27-year-old attacker has amassed ten goals and two assists from 16 League One games to date, scoring in his last two matches for John Mousinho’s pace-setters as Pompey aim for promotion to the second tier.
Bishop could fast-track his way into the Championship if Sunderland gamble on his services, the ex-Accrington man worthy of making a name for himself in the division above.
Sunderland could also explore another Scottish option in attack in an attempt to replicate the success of the Stewart deal, the Black Cats signing their former number 14 from Ross County.
Mowbray could look to Heart of Midlothian for a potential new recruit this time in Lawrence Shankland, Hearts’ 28-year-old attacker a revelation in all competitions for the Scottish Premiership side so far this season.
The 28-year-old wouldn’t fit Sunderland’s preference on bringing in young gems to the Stadium of Light, but Shankland’s unerring accuracy in front of goal could see the Black Cats bring him in regardless – scoring ten goals from 19 Hearts appearances this campaign, wearing the captain’s armband proudly for his side.
The Championship side would face stiff competition from the likes of Rangers, who are rumoured to be interested in the 6 foot 1 striker, but Sunderland should attempt to ambitiously hijack a move to Ibrox to tempt Shankland to play English football instead.