Will Grigg hails his 'brilliant' Sunderland teammate and sets end of season goal target
Will Grigg is enjoying his blossoming partnership with Charlie Wyke - but admits he doesn’t know whether it will continue when Sunderland face Doncaster Rovers this evening.
The strike duo have built up a strong rapport since they were both handed a starting berth at Accrington Stanley, with the trip to the Wham Stadium signalling a notable change in the Black Cats’ system.
Jack Ross boldly opted to field his side in a 4-4-2 formation, a system which has continued to be utilised since and one which seems to be bringing the best out of the club’s two senior strikers.
For Grigg it was something of a change, having mainly been utilised as a lone frontman throughout his career, but he has been left impressed by Wyke’s showings alongside him in the new shape.
But with defensive vulnerabilities in that system highlighted against the Sky Blues last weekend, a change in approach may be forthcoming when Doncaster visit the Stadium of Light.
And Grigg himself admits that he doesn’t know whether the pair will continue their partnership or whether Ross will hold it in reserve.
“It’s been brilliant,” said Grigg of playing with Wyke.
“Charlie's obviously a great player. I think when I came here he was just a little bit short on confidence.
“He had an injury earlier in the season as well but everyone has seen in the last three or four games, especially the game away at Accrington, the support and the backing the fans have gave him and I think that's given him a massive boost.
“He's got so much to his game - he's a massive presence, he's a handful to play against - and I think we've worked quite well together.
“It [playing in a front two] is actually not something that I’ve ever really done in my career, I’ve always played on my own,” he continued.
“I think I’ve proved I’m capable of doing that.
“But when Charlie is up there it’s a different dimension for the team.
“Whether we use that as a weapon or if it’s a recurring thing, we don’t know.
“But I love playing with him and I think we play quite well together.”
Grigg will be hoping that, should the partnership continue, Wyke will be able to help him achieve his goal-scoring target for the campaign.
For having netted five times already since moving to the Stadium of Light, the ex-Wigan striker is now eyeing double figures during the run-in as he looks to fire Sunderland towards the top two.
“The initial one [target] was I wanted double figures,” he admitted.
“I’m halfway there at the moment.
“The last few games have been difficult and it hasn’t been the best of performances from the whole team.
“At the start when I signed I was playing well and not scoring, and now I’m not playing as well but scoring so if we can get that combination for the last five games we’ll be in a good place.”
The ultimate target for Grigg and Sunderland, however, remains promotion.
And while the pursuit of the top two may be unfamiliar territory for some, it’s something the striker has grown accustomed to.
Having gained promotion from League One twice with Wigan Athletic in recent years, the 27-year-old is now looking to help his teammates during a pressurised run-in.
“You have to draw back on all the experience you’ve got,” added Grigg.
“I’ve been in this before and it isn’t always plain sailing. I’ve won promotion on the last day, one with two games to go and it’s never over.
“At the moment it’s in our hands and we’ll be doing everything possible to make sure we do it.
“I can help on and off the pitch, whether it’s just giving the lads a bit of confidence, experience or advice. If I can help in any way I’ll be doing that.”