Sunderland's striker situation assessed as Lee Johnson looks to provide support for League One top scorer Ross Stewart
Sunderland are looking to sign a new striker this month – yet finding someone who can make an immediate impact won’t be straightforward.
The Black Cats have the top scorer in League One this season, with Ross Stewart bagging his 18th goal of the campaign against Lincoln on Tuesday.
Yet there is clearly a lack of cover for the Scottish frontman, while Sunderland have seen the benefits of playing with two strikers when Nathan Broadhead was fit.
We’ve taken a closer look at the club’s striker situation:
Who are Sunderland interested in?
A few names have been mentioned already, yet most of them seem unlikely to materialise.
Despite reports, Peterborough’s director of football Barry Fry has said there has been no approach from Sunderland for Jonson Clarke-Harris, while Rotherham are unlikely to sell Freddie Ladapo, 28, to a promotion rival.
Based on their new recruitment strategy, it’s more likely Sunderland will move for a younger option, potentially on loan from a Premier League club.
Sheffield United striker Daniel Jebbison held talks about a move to Wearside in the summer (before the Black Cats signed Broadhead) but is now at Burton.
Sunderland have also been credited with interest in Aston Villa striker Cameron Archer – who is a pacey striker and someone who appears to fit the profile of player they are looking for.
Yet there have also been suggestions that Villa will want to keep Archer after allowing Keinan Davis to join Nottingham Forest on loan.
Is there a limit on loan deals?
Sunderland have five loan players in their squad: Callum Doyle, Leon Dajaku, Thorben Hoffmann, Frederik Alves and Nathan Broadhead.
Aside from Alves, who is likely to return to West Ham, the Black Cats look set to keep the aforementioned players until the end of the season.
While there is no limit on the number of loans EFL clubs are allowed, they are only allowed to name five in the matchday squad.
That means Sunderland will have to think carefully before making another loan deal.
When will Broadhead be back?
Despite Broadhead’s injury setback, it’s thought Sunderland will keep the striker until the end of the season – rather than curtailing his loan spell from Everton.
The 23-year-old is highly rated on Wearside and it’s believed he could still make a significant impact at the end of the campaign.
Broadhead was expected to be sidelined for around nine or ten weeks with a hamstring injury, which he suffered in December.
That would mean the striker could return around March if his recovery goes to plan.
What are Sunderland’s other options?
While Stewart is fit and available Sunderland have time to look for the right deal, yet clearly it is a precarious position.
The Black Cats allowed young striker Will Harris, 21, to join League Two side Barrow on loan, leaving Benji Kimpioka as the only cover for Stewart.
Aiden O’Brien, who has just returned to the squad, could also play through the middle if required.
Sunderland will obviously want to get someone in as soon as possible, but may have to wait as other clubs assess their squads.
With Covid-19 cases causing games to be postponed, Premier League clubs will be more reluctant to let players leave on loan.