Five goalkeepers who could solve Chris Coleman's biggest Sunderland selection headache
OfÂ the many priorities facing new Sunderland boss Chris Coleman, one screams louder than any other...finding a goalkeeper who can keep clean sheets.
In a squad battered by a traumatic start to life in the Championship, no players have taken more punishment than summer signings Robbin Ruiter and Jason Steele.
Neither stopper has impressed with the defence shipping a league high 35 goals in 18 Championship games.
So here are five goalkeepers Coleman could bring to the Stadium of Light on loan in the new year to address his biggest issue.
As exclusively revealed by the Echo, Coleman is keen to be reunited with Liverpool’s third-choice keeper, who he picked for his Wales debut in 2016.
Ward impressed Coleman for the national side and has good memories of the Championship, having helped Huddersfield to promotion – after starring in their play-off penalty shoot-out victory over Sheffield Wednesday – on loan last season.
Despite neither Sunderland old boy Simon Mignolet or Lorus Karius fully convincing at Anfield, Jurgen Klopp may well agree to let Ward stay match sharp by lending him out again.
Another option is Leicester keeper Jakupovic, who might jump at a second chance to join Sunderland after seeing his decision to snub them in the summer go sour.
The Swiss stopper is understood to have been a target for Simon Grayson but chose to join Leicester City instead, only to struggle to establish himself even as Kasper Schmeichel’s No 2.
However, Jakupovic’s form at Hull City underlines his Championship pedigree.
Everton keeper played 20 Premier League games last season, but hasn’t made a single league appearance since the arrival of Jordan Pickford.
Although he is currently the Toffees’ No 2, Robles’ desire for regular football – and the presence at Goodison Park of Holland international Maarten Stekelenburg – could see him tempted to make an ironic move to fill the Pickford-shaped gap at the Stadium of Light.
The 32-year-old Finn keeper has only played once for Brighton since arriving in 2015 and is now third choice behind Matt Ryan and Tim Krul.
But the fact that Albion awarded him a new contract in the summer underlines that they still rate him.
However, with him due to become a free agent next June, Maenpaa might even be a realistic target for a cut-price permanent deal in January.
And finally....Karl Darlow.
A controversial and bold option would be to try to tempt Darlow to cross the Tyne-Wear divide.
The 27-year-old was a regular in Newcastle’s promotion campaign last season but has been vying with youngster Freddie Woodman for a place on the bench this term.
If Rafa Benitez has faith in Woodman as a long-term No 2 – and wants to keep Darlow match sharp ahead of a possible sale next summer – a move to the old enemy might make sense.