How Will Grigg fared on his Sunderland debut - and why fans must remain patient

We all know the chant - but it may take a while for Will Grigg's fire to fully spark into life at Sunderland.

Saturday, 9th February 2019, 5:24 pm
Updated Monday, 11th February 2019, 1:35 am
Will Grigg made his Sunderland debut at Oxford United

The striker, who sealed a big-money move to the Stadium of Light in a dramatic late deal, made his debut for the club during the 1-1 draw at Oxford United.

It was perhaps surprising, given the striker's lack of game time in recent weeks.

Will Grigg made his Sunderland debut at Oxford United

Grigg came to Sunderland nursing a minor injury, with an ankle problem ruling him out for a large chunk of January. Even prior to that, the Northern Irish international had found starting opportunities limited as Paul Cook opted to rotate his Wigan Athletic frontline.

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Jack Ross, therefore, would have had every right to ease the striker into life on Wearside with a cameo off the bench at the Kassam Stadium.

But it perhaps speaks volumes about Ross' thoughts on the frontman - plus the impact he is expected to have - that he was handed a starting berth.

And while he failed to find the net on his first outing, there were certainly glimpses of his undoubted ability during his 80 minutes on the field.

There were times that Grigg looked somewhat off the pace, but that is to be expected given his lack of regular football in recent weeks.

He was always a willing runner, though, and made some strong contributions at both ends. A fine defensive header early on showed how he could play a part at both ends.

But he wasn't signed to snuff out chances. The Black Cats want him to bury them.

His opportunities were limited on Saturday , but that is arguably more a reflection on those around him that Grigg himself. The 27-year-old is not a creator - he is reliant upon good service and that was not forthcoming in Oxfordshire.

But when there was even a sniff of an opportunity, he showed the striker's instinct that prompted Sunderland to splash the cash.

The perfect example was seen midway through the first half, as Grigg latched on to what looked to be a meaningless long ball. From a tight angle, he flashed a half-volley narrowly wide.

It was far from an easy opportunity, but the former MK Dons man's desire to firstly latch on to the ball and then take on the shot offered a glimpse of what he can bring to this side.

When he's fully up to speed in a few weeks' time, chances such as that may have a more positive outcome.

Grigg's impact was more limited in the second half with Sunderland under the cosh, and it was no surprise to see him withdrawn late on as Sunderland looked to close out the game.

While his debut is unlikely to rank among the best the Black Cats' faithful have seen, there was plenty to be encouraged by - and certainly enough to dispute the home fans' chants that he was a 'waste of money'.

So while Grigg may not be fully on fire yet, the spark is certainly there.