MARTIN O’Neill says he’s excited already about working with Sunderland’s strikers once they are back up to full strength.
The new manager currently only has Danish international Nicklas Bendtner, South Korean Ji Dong-won, and young prospect Ryan Noble to work with – and Bendtner has been struggling with a groin strain this week.
But O’Neill knows that it shouldn’t be long before his options are increased by the returns of Connor Wickham and Fraizer Campbell from their respective knee injuries.
O’Neill checked on the fitness of both players this week and was heartened to hear that both are on course for a return to first-team availability in the near future.
“Fraizer’s really not far away now,” O’Neill told the Echo.
“The Reserves game midweek was perhaps a little soon for him but he’s very close to playing competitively again and he’s reached the stage where he’s just going to need games now to sharpen him up.
“Connor Wickham I’ve seen very little of this week, we keep missing each other – I’ll turn up when he’s just gone or he’ll turn up when I’ve gone!
“But I like the look of him, he’s a big strong lad – amazing he’s still only 18 – and he’ll be another important option for us when he returns which, like Fraizer, hopefully shouldn’t be too long away.”
Neither Wickham nor Campball is available for the Blackburn Rovers game this Sunday and O’Neill’s worry was that Bendtner won’t be either.
But there’s no doubt how important the club’s strikers are to O’Neill right now, or how vital it is to him and to Sunderland that goals flow from them.
He said: “Clearly we’ve had a problem scoring goals this season and that has to be looked at. The good thing is that every indication suggests we have no problem making chances, just a problem taking them as things stand.
“And as long as chances are being made, we can work with all the strikers to make sure that we take a higher percentage of them than we have done so far.”