Jack Ross is backing Charlie Wyke and Duncan Watmore to have a big impact for promotion-chasing Sunderland in the second half of the campaign.
Sunderland have been handed a huge boost with the timely return of the duo from their respective knee injuries, Watmore back following a 13-month lay-off.
While the club will continue to manage Watmore’s workload given his lengthy time out, he showed in the final stages against Bradford City what an asset he is.
Wyke too made a big impact from the subs bench, helping Sunderland to a 1-0 win, a result which cut the points gap to leaders Portsmouth to just five, with two games in hand.
Watmore produced a superb cameo, drawing a number of fouls and helping Sunderland get up the pitch with his clever runs, Wyke, meanwhile, held the ball up well, showed good strength and won headers.
Ross has already stated that he is not planning on signing another striker in January, the return of Wyke and Watmore meaning that isn’t a priority area to strengthen, with additions in defence more important.
The pair will help to relieve some of the pressure from the shoulders of 13-goal top scorer Josh Maja.
“It is such a big boost for us having them back, I was pleased for Duncan as we have done what we promised and not rushed him back,” Ross told the Echo.
“Even when he was fit, we have dipped him in and out.
“In that ten to 15 minutes Charlie was on the pitch he showed he is in a far better place than when we threw him in previously.
“He has trained a lot more and he looks a lot sharper, fitter and stronger. The two of them will be a big help to us over the second half of the season.”
On the January transfer window, Ross said: “I think it’s a notoriously difficult window to get right. I think the work we did in the summer has given us a squad that is fairly well-balanced and if we do anything it will be one or two, it won’t be very much.
“Then, you look at the health side of things and having Duncan and Charlie come back is like having two new strikers, who are both very good and have different attributes.
“To go out and find them in the market would be very difficult, so although I didn’t want to be without them for the first half of the season, we’ve managed and to have them back is a big boost,” he added in his programme notes.
Wyke had been out since September with a second knee injury since joining from Bradford.
“I’ve worked hard over the last few weeks, I’ve been training for four weeks now so I’m ready to go,” said Wyke.
“Last time I was chucked straight in and I wanted to be chucked straight in but I wasn’t ready. This time, I’m ready and raring to go. There’s a lot of games in the next few weeks - so hopefully I can play my part and we can keep getting three points.”