Former Sunderland striker and pundit Kevin Phillips has recommended Stoke City forward Sam Vokes to Lee Johnson in an interview with the Football Insider, with Charlie Wyke seemingly edging closer to a move to Scottish side Celtic.
After struggling for a long time in Staffordshire, Vokes has been given permission by Michael O’Neill to find a new club and on Wednesday, Daily Mirror journalist Darren Witcoop revealed Sunderland were one of the sides interested in a loan move for the Welsh international.
The 31-year-old failed to score in 30 Championship appearances last season, a very poor record for a man who was so prolific for Burnley before arriving at the bet365 Stadium in 2019.
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His career has stalled since this move – and could look to take the step down to get his career back on track now he’s entered his thirties.
With Charlie Wyke departing the Black Cats on the expiry of his contract and little prospect of re-signing him on a fresh deal after they missed out on promotion last season, the Wearside club’s manager Lee Johnson will be preparing for life without him behind the scenes and could look at Vokes as a potential option.
As a former Sunderland and Stoke man, pundit Kevin Phillips has recommended the Welshman as a replacement for Wykes and said to the Football Insider: “It didn’t go to plan for him at Stoke.
“He came in not long after I left. Vokes is that type of player, you know what you’re going to get.
“He is in that Charlie Wyke ilk. He’s big and powerful in the box and gets on the end of crosses.
“That’s not a bad one to be fair. You would like to think he can perform in League One.
“He could suit Sunderland’s style of play, that could turn out to be a decent signing.”
Even though Vokes has similar qualities to Wyke, the former’s current form means this move would be a massive risk. He may have a lot of quality and he certainly showed that at Turf Moor before moving to his current club – but what if he misfires again?
Sunderland will be desperate to compete for a top-six spot again but may not be able to if they rely on Vokes and he fails to perform, so Johnson should definitely consider other options too.
Joe Pigott is a man who performed admirably and as a free agent, would be cheaper than the Welshman whose contract with the Championship club doesn’t expire until next year.
With his international experience and previous potential, O’Neill will want at least something for the 31-year-old so he can reinvest in his team. Should the Black Cats pay a transfer fee for him in that case? Perhaps not.