Despite showing promises under Jack Ross, Sunderland’s season in League One ended in massive heartbreak following a play-off final defeat against Charlton Athletic. The Black Cats are desperate to regain their lost status and have been assured by club owner Stewart Donald regarding transfer activity irrespective of the takeover talks, according to Chronicle Live.
The Wearside outfit are already in the market to bolster the frontline and have reportedly submitted an offer for in-demand Scottish sensation Lawrence Shankland, according to the Sun. The 24-year-old netted 34 goals last season for Ayr United and is now available on a Bosman transfer amid interest from Rangers, Hearts as well as Nottingham Forest and Hull City.
Ross, the former St Mirren boss, has his influence and contacts in Scotland and holds the key to luring in the free agent ahead of the other mightier counterparts. Sunderland have failed to replace the excellence of Josh Maja in front of goal and Will Grigg, his successor, has been a disappointment with four goals in 20 appearances since completing a winter deadline transfer from Wigan Athletic.
Shankland had a failed stint at Aberdeen but resurrected his career since joining the Honest Men in the Scottish third tier a couple of summers ago. Although his outrageous form was unable to ensure a Premiership promotion for Ian McCall’s men, the striking sensation is backed for a high-profile transfer within the next couple of months, and he should choose his next destination wisely to continue his development.
The Black Cats have also joined the queue (as reported by the Lancashire Telegraph) for veteran Stewart Downing who has been released from his boyhood club Middlesbrough after narrowly missing out on a playoff place finish under Tony Pulis. The former England international will turn 35 next month but is still capable of offering his experience on and off the pitch for at least one more campaign.
Downing had a brief loan still at the Stadium of Light when he was a teenager and witnessed many ups and downs in his illustrious career. His stats and numbers might not be fascinating, but the player is rated highly even in his mid-thirties for obvious reasons.
While Shankland would inject youthfulness upfront, Downing should be utilised to showcase his strong set-piece skills, vision, creative spark and versatility in the attacking third. Sunderland, however, must step up the chase and show real intent to secure their services despite competing in the third division of English football.