Fabio Borini is being earmarked for a central role at Sunderland after leading the line in a behind-closed-doors game during the international break.
Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat had been looking to add a physical targetman to his squad during the final days of the transfer window, yet instead, the Black Cats revived their interest in former loanee Borini and finally re-signed the Italian in a £7.75million deal after a 13-month pursuit.
Sunderland played a behind-closed-doors encounter against neighbours Hartlepool United last week and Borini was tellingly deployed as the central striker
Borini spent the majority of his season-long loan at the Stadium of Light two years ago in a wide role under Gus Poyet, albeit he was used as a centre-forward in the Capital One Cup final.
But Borini made no secret of his desire to play down the middle and that is where he looks likely to be used by Advocaat after returning to the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland played a behind-closed-doors encounter against neighbours Hartlepool United last week and Borini was tellingly deployed as the central striker in Advocaat’s favoured 4-3-3 set-up.
That remains the likely set-up for Sunderland’s return to Premier League action against Spurs on Sunday, albeit Borini is short on match fitness after being forced to train on his own this summer during the end of his time at Liverpool.
Borini’s signing had prompted question marks over whether he would return to a wide role and allow Jermain Defoe to move into his favoured centre-forward position.
But since Sunderland’s opening day defeat at Leicester, Advocaat has been adamant that Defoe cannot play as a lone striker.
Defoe has netted five goals in all competitions so far this season, but despite concerns over his ability to offer a helping hand defensively, Advocaat believes the England international has to be used in one of the wide positions in the front three.
“I still think, as a striker, he can’t do that on his own,” said Advocaat after the draw at Aston Villa 11 days ago.
“Maybe with two, but not on his own.
“But he’s a good guy, a really positive guy.
“He still had a chance at Aston Villa – a 100 per cent chance. With a better touch, he would score.”