Jack Ross discusses Sunderland attacking options ahead of deadline with Charlie Wyke due back

Charlie Wyke will return to training this week and hand Sunderland a major boost as they look to build on their impressive start.

Sunday, 26th August 2018, 12:01 pm
Updated Sunday, 26th August 2018, 12:05 pm

Jack Ross believes Sunderland would benefit from a different striking option and the cavalry is on its way in the shape of Wyke, while a possible loan addition would further bolster his options.

Celtic winger Ryan Christie is a loan target, though Sunderland face competition from Aberdeen and Barnsley for his signature.

Josh Maja has led the line admirably in Sunderland’s unbeaten start to League One, with four goals.

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Ross is full of praise for the 19-year-old but the 2-1 win at AFC Wimbledon showed the value a different option would add to the attack.

Sunderland struggled to hold the ball up in the opening 45 minutes, with the Dons deservedly leading 1-0 at the break.

The return of Wyke from a knee injury will help on that front, the ex-Bradford City striker will be a focal point.

Wyke is ‘desperate’ to launch his Sunderland career and Ross hasn’t ruled out him being involved in the squad against Oxford United on Saturday - provided he trains well this week.

Ross also wants to add another attacking option via the loan market before Friday, with Ross admitting he’d ideally like someone who could play up front and/or out wide.

Even if Sunderland failed to land signing No.13, Ross will be delighted to have his big summer signing available to him.

On Wyke, Ross said: “All being well he’ll be able to join in training at some point during the week, and Tom Flanagan as well. We’re getting there.”

On Wyke’s chances of making the squad against Oxford, Ross added: “It just depends how he trains. He’s done a bit and he’ll join in with the first team group whether it’s towards the middle or the end of the week.

“We’ll just assess it from there.

“But he’s desperate to be involved and he’s a fit boy who looks after himself. I would probably more likely push him as not.”

Ross’ side made hard work of the victory over the Dons, AFC Wimbledon pressing Sunderland hard and forcing them to go long in the first half.

A tactic that didn’t work with Maja unable to hold up the ball against the huge Dons backline. Maja improved second half, along with Sunderland.

When asked if the game showed the value of a different striking option, Ross said: “It would help.

“Because we’ve played well in the opening period of the season and because we’ve played well other teams have squeezed us high up the pitch and I thought Wimbledon were brilliant to have the energy levels to do it.

“To get out then becomes a little bit more difficult and we need to get better at that. To have someone that allows us to adapt in forward areas will help us.

“Whether that’s a starter or changing during the game remains to be seen but the good thing is it’s coming [into Sunderland’s play].

“That’s encouraging for me and to be five games in - having got through it asking a huge amount of Josh - is great.

“I thought in the second half he was good because he had a difficult first half.

“He looked a bit leggy at times but he produced in the second half for us, which is great for him mentally.”