Who should replace Jordan Pickford for Sunderland? The candidates to take the gloves next season

Could Sunderland try and tempt Mannone to stay?
Could Sunderland try and tempt Mannone to stay?
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The departure of Jordan Pickford leaves Sunderland with a major gap to fill between the goalposts.

The 23-year-old was one of the few positives of a disastrous season and his form undoubtedly prevented the Black Cats from an even worse points haul.

His sale will give his boyhood club a boost in terms of rebuilding for the Championship, but how much any new manager will be able to reinvest remains to be seen.

Even more unclear is how much of that will be spent on a goalkeeper, with the forward line in desperate need of bolstering as well as the heart of the defence.

So what are Sunderland's options?

Promote from within

One option for Sunderland is to try and convince Vito Mannone to return to Wearside as the club's number one for pre-season.

At the moment that seems unlikely, with Mannone disappointed to lose his place to Pickford after picking up an injury in the early stages of last season. When Pickford himself then returned from the physio room Moyes made a decisive choice to reinstall the 23-year-old. The Sunderland boss was then angered by the Italian's agent, Roberto de Fanti, who strongly hinted that Mannone and Fabio Borini would return to Serie A next season.

A new manager, however, could try and tempt him to stay, bringing some continuity to the squad and freeing up funds to be spent on areas where the need is more pressing.

Mika could then compete for the number two spot with youngsters Max Stryjek, James Talbot and Oliver Pain, depending on which three of those head out on loan.

All of this would of course likely be scuppered by a strong bid for Mannone, which the Black Cats would likely be minded to accept.

Invest significantly

Sunderland's second option is to immediately look to replace Pickford with a long-term solution, either by adding a young player who can grow over a number of seasons or by bringing in an established keeper near his peak.

Neither would be a cheap option but Pickford himself has shown how big a difference a goalkeeper can make, just as the likes of Thomas Myhre, Mart Poom and Thomas Sorensen have done for the Black Cats in the second tier previously.

David Marshall could be one such contender, who has struggled to make an impact at Hull City but is a stopper with superb Championship pedigree and experience. Also at Hull and an option surely worth considering is Eldin Jakupovic, who has a year left on his contract and was in absolutely superb form last season. Premier League clubs may come calling but he is highly regarded at Sunderland and could be a low cost, high quality replacement.

Another low cost option could be Aberdeen's Joe Lewis, a player highly regarded by Derek McInnes.

McInnes told the Evening Express in February: "There is a calmness about Joe.

“There are never any spills and he is very tidy with his work.

“There is always an assurance in everything Joe does and it is great to have that. The defence also take a lot of confidence from it.”

Enter the loan market

One solution could be to try and find a short-term solution and enter the loan market.

A prime candidate may well be Danny Ward, should Derek McInnes get the managerial post as expected. Ward launched his career at Pittodrie under McInnes and followed it up with a stellar season at Huddersfield.

With Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet set to battle it out for the number one jersey at Anfield, another loan seems likely. If a Premier League club doesn't come calling it could be a fine fit for the Black Cats.

Another option could be Sam Johnstone, the Manchester United youngster who has most recently been on loan at Aston Villa. He has been linked regularly with Sunderland in recent weeks and would help ease the transition as Sunderland look to bring their wage budget down while staying competitive in the Championship.

Look to a free agent

John Ruddy has been mentioned regularly as a potential signing for Sunderland, who were linked with a swoop last summer.

The 30-year-old is now a free agent having been released by Norwich City and would bring a wealth of experience from both the Premier League and the Championship.

Another left-field option is former Newcastle United and Sunderland goalkeeper Shay Given, who has just been released by Stoke City.

Cedric Carrasso from Bordeaux is another soon to be free agent to be linked with a switch to the Stadium of Light.