Just as Sunderland fans thought life in the Championship couldn’t get much worse, a Jermain Defoe clone is ready to shoot them down this Saturday.
Bristol City’s Bobby Reid arrives at the Stadium of Light having bagged seven goals in 13 league games this season after a conversion from midfielder to striker so successful that some are comparing him to Defoe.
Nominated for the Championship’s Player of the Month award for September, the diminutive Reid is joint top scorer in the division.
And while that has stirred echoes of Defoe, City boss Lee Johnson’s description of 24-year-old Reid as a “Duracell bunny” underlines the Black Cats’ shaky back four are unlikely to have a moment’s rest against him on Saturday.
Before this season, Reid had notched 11 goals in his previous seven campaigns, while Defoe had already scored 100 career goals and was a full England international at the same age.
But that only underlines the shrewdness of Johnson’s decision to convert City academy product Reid into a striker.
“It’s funny because you’re looking at players with attributes not as good as Bobby and you’re talking about spending £5million or £6million on them,” said Johnson.
“So I’m thinking: ‘Hold on a minute, let’s have an experiment.’ I spoke to Bobby at the end of last season and told him of my intentions.
“I love him, I’m desperate for him to play, but as a midfielder sometimes the competition is too strong and he doesn’t have quite the attributes in a defensive sense that I’m after, or the physical prowess.
“But as a striker he’s got good movement, his technique’s good, he can handle the ball [with his] back to goal, he never stops running.
“He’s like a Duracell battery up there – at shutting down and pressing – and he’s just a pest to play against.
“But we see him every day and we see he can finish as well.”
Johnson also hails Reid’s ability to both come short and run in behind as making him a “nine and a half” striker. If Sunderland have designs on a first home win of the season, they will have to keep a player whose middle name is Armani at bay.