Chris Maguire is confident he can help fill the void following Charlie Wyke’s injury blow after delivering the perfect response to being dropped.
The 29-year-old was axed from the XI that started against Burton Albion but came off the bench to score a stunning strike in the 2-1 defeat.
Maguire is in line for a recall to the starting line-up for the visit of Rochdale after Wyke was ruled out for two months after being stretchered off in the defeat at Burton.
Josh Maja will likely lead the attack, with Jack Ross weighing up whether to move Jerome Sinclair into a central role alongside Maja, thereby freeing up a return for Maguire in a wide attacking position.
If he gets the nod, Maguire believes the quality of his Sunderland teammates helps bring out the best in him.
Maguire joined Sunderland in the summer on a two-year deal following a disappointing spell at Bury last season, in which he only managed two goals and the Shakers were relegated to the fourth tier.
He has bounced back strongly this season with three goals to his name already, including the superb 25-yard strike against Burton.
The Scot, who hit 17 goals for Oxford United the season before, welcomes the healthy competition for places at Sunderland and insists nobody has the right to keep their place in the side regardless.
“I’m confident in my own ability and if I’ve got good players about me it always brings the best out of me,” said Maguire.
“Last season wasn’t a year I enjoyed at football but I seem to have got my head back on track and I’m loving every minute of it. I think it’s showed so far.”
On competition for places, Maguire added: “It’s good for the full team because there’s other boys coming back also.
“Nobody’s got the right to keep their place unless they’re performing week in, week out.
“It’s going to benefit if it brings the best out of the players starting and that will make it tough for the boys to get in.
“We’ve got a great squad and if everybody pulls together, that’s what a squad’s for.”
Wyke was ruled out for up to two months with knee ligament damage following scan results.
Sunderland host Rochdale at the Stadium of Light this Saturday in a 3pm kick-off.
While Saturday was a bruising afternoon in more ways than one given Wyke’s injury and the defeat putting an end to Sunderland’s unbeaten start, there was some good news, with winger Aiden McGeady making his long-awaited return from injury from the substitute’s bench.
McGeady came on after 51 minutes, replacing Sinclair and Maguire is pleased to see the return of the experienced 32-year-old.
Maguire added: “It’s great to have him back and it’ll only help the squad and the hunger.
“He’s still a bit away fitness-wise but it’s good to get him back on the pitch and hopefully he can kick on now.”