Jack Ross and Lynden Gooch explain exactly why Charlie Wyke's return is so key for Sunderland

Next week Jack Ross hopes to sign a defender who can add a bit of physicality to his side.

Friday, 4th January 2019, 9:26 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 7:29 am
Charlie Wyke's return to fitness has been a big boost for Sunderland
Charlie Wyke's return to fitness has been a big boost for Sunderland

It is a delicate balance because while Ross wants his side to continue playing the way that has brought them very good results so far, he knows they can get even better.

Charlie Wyke showed evidence of that against Blackpool.

Not only did he offer a completely different option for team-mates on the ball, he helped bring the best out of the technically talented players around him.

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For Ross, Wyke's fitness is a major boost.

"By and large we've had a front four who are technically good players but not that big in stature, they've had to score some really good goals," Ross said.

"Now we have a different facet to our attacking play.

"The last couple of games we've also put a lot of crosses into the box, so we can encourage that and try to take advantage of that.

"Now we know we have the players to attack that, so it can change the dynamics of our game a little bit."

A partnership with Josh Maja showed promising signs at Bloomfield Road and leaves Ross with a big decision to make when the Black Cats travel to the Valley on Saturday.

Ross says the structure will remain the same whoever he picks, but knows playing Wyke and Maja offers a real goal threat.

"For us, the team doesn't necessarily set up any differently," Ross said.

"What Josh is asked to do is the same really to what Chris [Maguire] is asked to do when he players there.

"It's just that you've got different types of player playing there, so if you've got Josh playing there he's naturally going to link up more.

"If you've got George [Honeyman] there he'll naturally drop in more, Chris will naturally come to the ball more.

"The system and the structure stays the same it is just tweaked by the player in there.

"Charlie being back, it's not just Josh, just in general, is huge for us.

"On a pitch like Tuesday you see what a difference he makes," he added.

"Not just his physicality either, he is just a good player, you don't score as many goals as he has without that.

"It's a big boost.

"If we were signing him in January, people would say 'great signing'."

The excitement at having Wyke available is one shared by Lynden Gooch.

"He was brilliant at Blackpool," Gooch said.

"He relieved so much pressure on us.

"He was a big outlet, won almost everything in the air and held the ball up for us, which got us up the pitch and allowed us to create opportunities.

"He didn't get his goal but he was brilliant.

“He is like a new signing. He helped us get up the pitch and was a big outlet at set pieces as well.”