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James Hunter

Sunderland 'open to' Ellis Simms returning to Wearside later in the transfer window

Sunderland have not ruled out the possibility of Ellis Simms returning to Wearside later this month - with sporting director Kristjaan Speakman saying the club is 'open to' a reunion with the Everton frontman. Simms spent the first half of the season on loan with the Black Cats, scoring seven goals in 17 outings despite missing several games in September and October due to a toe injury.

But, with Frank Lampard's Everton struggling near the foot of the Premier League, his parent club activated their recall option to bring him back to Goodison Park last weekend. Since then, Simms came on as a substitute in Everton's 4-1 home defeat against Brighton on Tuesday which means that, under rules that state no player can play for more than two clubs in one season, he cannot now play for any side other than Everton or Sunderland this season.

For now, Simms will remain at Goodison but if Everton bring in more firepower this month and Simms is shunted down the pecking order, they may consider allowing him to come back to Sunderland later in the month for the remainder of the campaign. "I think when you've got loan players in your squad you have to those contingency plans in case something like this occurs," Speakman told the club's official website.

READ MORE: Kristjaan Speakman sets out Sunderland's stance on Ross Stewart's contract situation

"We've had those in place in operation for the first half of the season and we've now got to make the right choices so that our squad is as strong as it was going into January, if not stronger. It's obviously disappointing, I think Ellis really, really enjoyed his time here.

"Speaking to him it was strange because I think he was bitterly disappointed to be going back but he is also going back to participate in a Premier League team. We're really pleased because he came here when he had options elsewhere and bought into everything about the club, and he's enjoyed the behind-the-scenes work to develop his game.

"I think he respects that. If there's an opportunity for Ellis to come back we're open to that, and now that he's played for Everton [against Brighton] through the two-club rule he can only play for either them or us moving forward this season.

"It's going to be an interesting conversation maybe at some point in January on whether that's a possibility."

With Simms gone, Ross Stewart is currently Sunderland's only specialist centre-forward and head coach Tony Mowbray has already said that it is imperative that the club brings in reinforcements as soon as possible - and has said the club is looking at one potential loan deal, and the possibility of bringing in a young player on a permanent transfer. Mowbray would also be keen to see Simms return, but he is aware that the club cannot sit on its hands and rely on that happening at the end of the month.


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