Ross Stewart’s latest injury nightmare has forced Sunderland to reconsider their striking options and seen them linked with a fresh bid for former loanee Ellis Simms ahead of the close of the transfer window.
But with Everton only just welcoming new manager Sean Dyche to the club, it is highly doubtful they will be willing to make a decision re Simms’ future in the next 24 hours.
And that would force Sunderland to look elsewhere for a deadline-day attacking signing capable of helping them maintain both their positive run of form and attractive brand of football under Tony Mowbray.
Here we look at five realistic alternatives to Simms for Sunderland to consider ahead of Tuesday’s 11pm transfer deadline.
READ MORE: Sunderland's transfer state of play as Black Cats go into deadline day
Aaron Collins – Bristol Rovers
Collins, 25, is the second highest goalscorer in League One this season, and has 10 assists to go with his 14 goals. But while the Welshman is on fire, he would represent a gamble . . . and any move for him may also hit personal problems.
Those problems would not be of Collins’ making, but because of the fact that a certain Joey Barton is manager of Bristol Rovers.
Given Barton’s presence and the fact that Collins offers Rovers outside hope of a League One play-off place this season, any deal would surely not come cheap.
And Sunderland have painful memories of spending big money ahead of the January deadline on a striker whose goals have mainly come in the third tier.
Kevin Nisbet – Hibernian
Few strikers are in hotter form than Nisbet, who has eight goals and an assist in just seven Scottish Premiership games for Hibs this season.
The 25-year-old looked likely to join Millwall earlier this month, but that deal fell at the final hurdle. And two things may count against a Sunderland move for him ahead of the deadline: the lack of time for Hibs’ former Black Cats manager Lee Johnson to find a replacement, and the fact that Nisbet has not long returned from a nine-month lay-off with cruciate ligament damage.
Julio Enciso – Brighton & Hove Albion
Enciso is a versatile Paraguayan forward who recently became the latest young South American to be spotted and signed by the Seagulls. Naturally a winger, but also able to play as a central striker, he managed 18 goals and seven assists in 55 league appearances in his homeland.
Since his £11.6m move last summer, Enciso has scored one goal in two outings for Brighton’s U21 side and made four Premier League cameo appearances off the bench.
A loan move to a Championship side playing fluent football could tempt the Brighton hierarchy to farm him out for regular minutes in English football, preparing him for more involvement next year in the Premier League.
Sam Surridge – Nottingham Forest
Surridge has the target man credentials to potentially cover for Stewart, having become a fringe player at Forest this season and made only made one top tier start so far.
The former Bournemouth striker, 22, has impressed in Forest’s run to the Carabao Cup semi-finals, with two goals and two assists in five appearances.
If Sunderland do see something in Surridge, Newcastle may have done them a favour by selling Chris Wood to Forest last week, pushing Surridge down the striker pecking order at the City Ground.
Ibrahima Kone – FC Lorient
Kone is a physical and pacy Mali international whose pedigree for his country bears consideration over his record in Ligue 1 this season.
The 23-year-old has 11 international goals from just 14 appearances, but has often only featured as a substitute for Lorient this season and almost signed for Sunderland’s Championship rivals Blackburn Rovers earlier this month.
Kone may be available on a potential loan, but would be a more likely prospect if a permanent deal was put on the table by Sunderland director of football, Kristjaan Speakman.
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