Sunderland are currently sitting in 10th place in the Championship table after a 3-1 defeat to Swansea at the Stadium of Light in the division on Saturday.
The Black Cats are three points off the top six and a whopping 16 points off the automatic promotion places as it stands, which suggests that the play-offs are a realistic target for the club to set heading into the last 19 matches of the campaign.
Tony Mowbray and Kristjaan Speakman may now work together to strengthen the squad in the final two weeks of the January transfer window in order to improve their chances of sneaking into contention for promotion by the end of the season.
One player the club have been linked with an interest in is Leeds United attacker Joe Gelhardt. It was recently reported that the gem could be loaned out if the Premier League side signed Georginio Rutter and the Hoffenheim winger has since completed a move to Elland Road, which could open the door for Sunderland to swoop for the English youngster.
The Black Cats must attempt to snap up the former Wigan dynamo on loan until the end of the season as he has the potential to be an excellent addition to the squad.
Football talent scout Jacek Kulig once described him as “one of the most talented” youngsters in England and dubbed the forward the “new Wayne Rooney”.
This is hefty praise for Gelhardt as Rooney racked up 53 goals for England alongside 208 goals and 114 assists in 491 Premier League appearances throughout his career.
Like the Manchester United legend, the 20-year-old Leeds forward predominantly plays as a centre-forward but can also play as a second striker with his build, as he is not a typical 6-foot plus number nine at 5-foot-10, suiting a deeper role.
Gelhardt has shown plenty of signs of promise since joining the Whites and his form at youth and senior level indicates that he could be Sunderland’s own mini-Rooney in the Championship.
The 20-year-old attacker scored 20 goals and provided six assists in 31 appearances for Leeds’ under-21 side and has showcased his talent in the first-team with two goals and six assists in six Premier League starts – making 35 appearances in total.
Gelhardt – who Kulig once hailed as being “too good” – could thrive by dropping down into the Championship as he has already shown that he can produce, in limited minutes, quality moments in the top flight.
Now, imagine him arriving at the Stadium of Light and making a huge impact by scoring and assisting goals on a regular basis up front alongside Ross Stewart as Mowbray’s own version of Rooney…