Sunderland may be looking for a new striker this month, but summer signing Charlie Wyke is still eyeing a regular starting spot at the Stadium of Light.
Black Cats owner Stewart Donald revealed at the start of January that Sunderland are trying to sign another frontman to fire the club to promotion from League One.
Since then, the Wearsiders have seen two bids knocked back for Wigan Athletic striker Will Grigg, but Wyke, who missed a large chuck of the season with a long-term knee injury, is raring to go following his difficult spell on the sidelines.
“I have had to work hard in every game and training session now to try to stay in the team,” said Wyke, who made his first-team return on Boxing Day.
“If I’m not in the team, I have to work as hard as I can to get back in there and hopefully take my chance when it comes.”
Wyke believes he has the backing of his manger, Jack Ross, who started the striker for Sunderland’s crucial league games against Charlton and Luton.
In between those fixtures, the 6 ft 2 forward scored his first goal since September after netting the Black Cats’ second goal in the 4-0 Checkatrade Trophy win over Newcastle Under-21s.
And Wyke, who recognises he is a different type of player to Sunderland’s top scorer Josh Maja, hopes he can add more goals to game, with the promotion run-in emerging on the horizon.
“The manager kept mentioning me coming back, so no pressure there then eh?,” added Wyke.
“The gaffer’s always been good with me. He’s spoken to me a lot about how he wanted me to come back, and I’ve done a lot of work in the last few weeks to get there.”
“Even before I came back playing, I’d done four or five weeks of intense training. I’m ready to come back now, and I think the gaffer has managed me really well.”
Wyke is also excited by the prospect of a Wembley Cup final, ahead of tonight’s Checkatrade Trophy quarter-final against Manchester City Under-21s.
The striker has played at the national stadium once before, and is determined to make amends following his previous experience with Bradford in 2017.
“I’ve played at Wembley before with Bradford in the League One play-off final," said Wyke "Obviously, it didn’t go how I would have wanted, it didn’t go our way, but it was a great occasion.
“Every game we play, we want to win, we have to look at it as a chance to win another game. If we do get to Wembley, obviously it’ll be a great occasion for the club."