Simon Grayson has welcomed the different attacking options the return of key forwards will bring – and praised Lynden Gooch’s “hunger and desire” to make it in football
Duncan Watmore made his return from a serious knee injury at Preston North End while Josh Maja, 18, is back running and could return for the Under-23 side against Hertha Berlin on Tuesday.
Lewis Grabban, out with a hamstring injury, is a few weeks away but has started doing light work at the Academy of Light.
In the absence of that trio, Sunderland have been relying on James Vaughan and academy graduate Gooch, with attacking midfielders Aiden McGeady and George Honeyman weighing in with crucial goals.
Grayson is relishing the impending return of the cavalry and the different options it will give him.
Sunderland didn’t sign another striker on deadline day but Grayson has faith in the older and younger forwards to fire the Black Cats up the league.
When asked about the young attacking options, Grayson said: “With their rawness they can show a natural enthusiasm to run around and try and show people they can play at this level.
“When you talk about trying to bring in strikers it doesn’t mean to say they’re going to bring in everything the younger players or those already at this football club do.
“There wasn’t a load of strikers available on deadline day.
“I don’t think you saw too many leaving clubs on deadline day - why should any club let strikers go to potential rivals?
“We have a flexible group that can play different systems – two up front, one up front, a No.10 or whatever.
“We’ve got different options now, we have got [Joel] Asoro, Watmore and Josh Maja coming back.
“We will have competition for places and different types of players, so it’s up to them younger players that if they do get the opportunity they have to take it - like Lynden Gooch who has done well when he has been involved.
“He’s got a desire and a hunger to stake a claim and make a living in the game – why not try and do that in a big club like ours?”
Gooch, 21, has netted twice this season, against Carlisle United in the league cup and at home to Cardiff City in the Championship from the penalty spot.
Second-bottom Sunderland are without a Championship game this weekend due to the international break. They host QPR at the Stadium of Light a week Saturday, the first of four league games in October.