Phil Parkinson's interesting insight on picking Danny Graham last week and what it means for Sunderland's strikers

Phil Parkinson says there are still places in his Sunderland side up for grabs, particularly in the forward line.

Friday, 25th September 2020, 3:00 pm

Will Grigg, Danny Graham and Charlie Wyke have all appeared in competitive games for the Black Cats this season, but none of the trio have been able to get off the mark in League One.

Grigg looked to be the man in possession after a promising pre-season campaign, but Parkinson opted to bring Graham into the starting line-up for the 2-0 win over Oxford United.

Parkinson, though, says that was a selection made with Oxford's defence specifically in mind.

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Sunderland striker Danny Graham

After selling Rob Dickie to QPR in the summer, Sunderland's promotion rivals brought in Rob Atkinson from Eastleigh.

With no experience of league football until the start of this campaign, Parkinson felt that Graham's experience would work to Sunderland's advantage.

He felt it did, though he noted that Atkinson looks a 'good player'.

Though Oxford fell well short of their best, many of their more dangerous moments came from Atkinson driving towards the box from deep.

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The selection perhaps signals a subtle shift in approach from Parkinson.

Rotation is likely to be a more prominent theme this season, particularly in October when the Black Cats play eight times in all competitions.

That will give opportunities to all three, but Parkinson is still waiting for one of the trio to make the shirt their own.

Though Wyke has only a start in the EFL Trophy to his name so far this season, Parkinson was full of praise for his cameo from the bench at the Kassam Stadium.

"In my mind, there's still players and positions that are up for grabs," Parkinson said.

"I do feel we've got a lot of tight calls to make and there are a lot of players who it is difficult to choose between. That's great, it's what we want.

"It's about getting the balance of the side right and looking at the opposition, what are their strengths and weaknesses? Which of our front players can hurt them the most?

"We went with Danny Graham up front last week because I felt that the left-sided centre-back was new to league football, and Danny's nous would give him a problem," he explained.

"We're looking again at Peterborough this week, at the combination of our front players that might give their back three, if they play with that as they have done [so far], the most problems.

"I feel this year we've got the option to do that and we're looking closely at training every day to pick the best team."

Lynden Gooch is another player pushing hard for inclusion in Parkinson's starting XI after scoring a superb solo goal from the bench against Oxford.

Parkinson admitted that the attacking midfielder has been 'unfortunate' due to a change in system that has brough Aiden O'Brien into the side as a second striker.

Parkinson is also set to make a late call on the availability of Max Power, who has missed training earlier this week with a tight hamstring.

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