JOHN Carew could be a Sunderland player before the weekend as the club looks to bring in TWO strikers before the transfer window shuts.
Whoever comes in will not be brought in as a direct replacement for Darren Bent – the club accepting that the prolific striker is irreplaceable in the short term.
But Sunderland manager Steve Bruce will be charged with bringing in players who can underpin the club’s push for a strong finish to the season and then, in the summer, look to find a top quality replacement for a forward capable of virtually guaranteeing 20 goals a season.
In the meantime, Bruce will look to make Asamoah Gyan and Danny Welbeck his two first-choice strikers, with new arrivals being asked to provide back-up.
Carew is a definite possibility and has the advantage of being instantly available.
The towering Norwegian international striker has fallen out of favour at Villa Park, has been sparingly used by new Villa boss Gerard Houllier and is free to go.
The arrival of Bent yesterday will push the 31-year-old even further down Villa’s pecking order and Carew, who is out of contract this summer, when he will be able to leave on a free, knows he has no future at the club.
If Sunderland produce an acceptable offer to the Scandinavian, Villa will be happy to get him off the wage bill and the forward’s move could be done in time for him to play at Blackpool on Saturday.
Bruce has not wanted to go down the “big man-little-man” route in terms of his strikers and off-loaded Kenwyne Jones last summer partially for that reason.
But needs must when the devil drives and Carew has the advantage of, potentially, being instantly available and also with bags of Premier League experience.
Whether Carew comes in or not, Sunderland will look to bring in further reinforcements in the short-term.
Cardiff City’s unsettled forward Jay Bothroyd is on the radar and although mention has been made of former Middlesbrough man Tuncay at Stoke City, the reality is that the Turk’s club-mate Ricardo Fuller is actually the Stoke striker Sunderland have in their sights.
These are not the targets that will have Sunderland fans drooling, but no-one who comes in should be seen as Bent’s replacement.
The club is aware there will be no value for money over the next fortnight and is anxious not to panic buy and repent at leisure – the ambitious moves will come in the summer.
Ajax’s highly-rated but unsettled forward Luis Suarez has been mentioned, but there is absolutely no chance of him arriving in the January transfer window.
The unholy triumvirate of Robbie Keane, Michael Owen and John Utaka can be dismissed out of hand.
But the truth is that as well as Carew, Fuller and Bothroyd, Sunderland have a list of targets they are considering in a bid to give themselves short-term solutions to an unexpected problems.
That does not meant that any new signings would not have a future at the club. Any new arrivals will be given chances to prove themselves and become part of the club’s long-term plans.
But having broken the club’s transfer record twice in row over the last couple of summers, Sunderland fans should not be surprised if it gets broken a third time in the summer ahead.