Sunderland are reportedly keen on Burton Albion striker Liam Boyce as Phil Parkinson bolsters his squad for a play-off push.
The Black Cats have had a tough second season in League One after their dramatic demise on the play-off final last season against Charlton Athletic. They started this season with Jack Ross in charge and looked to build on what was, overall, a positive season despite being in the third division.
However, a dismal start to the campaign saw Jack Ross lose his job to be replaced by Phil Parkinson, who did little to warrant his appointment up until recently. Sunderland have now managed to turn their form around and move towards the play-offs having dropped into the bottom half in recent months, as they sit just a point behind Burton Albion with a game in-hand on the Brewers.
Heading into the January transfer window, it was clear that Parkinson wanted to bring in a number of new players and has set his sights on Brewers’ forward Liam Boyce this month.
So the question now for Sunderland fans is: who is Liam Boyce?
The striker currently plays at Burton Albion, a place above Sunderland in League One and has done since 2017, however, Boyce has had an interesting career to say the least.
The Northern Irish striker started his career coming through the ranks at Cliftonville and clearly impressed during his time there, making the move to Germany with Werder Bremen II in the third tier of German football at the time.
However, after three appearances and no goals in his only season in Germany, Boyce returned to Cliftonville where he hit some marvellous from, scoring a total of 70 goals and registering 27 assists (across his two stints) in 130 appearances, earning him a move to Scotland in Ross County in 2014.
The striker continued his solid form, hitting 55 goals and 20 assists in 115 games for the Scottish Premier League side, showing he was able to make the step up from the Northern Irish Premiership to the SPL.
This form earned him the move to England with then-Championship club Burton Albion when they were in the highest position in their history. However, Boyce featured irregularly, making 16 league appearances and scoring three as the Brewers were relegated.
Burton and Boyce have since spent their last two seasons in the same division as Sunderland and looking to push for the play-offs alongside the Black Cats. Boyce was a key part of Burton’s EFL Cup run to the semi-final where they faced off against Manchester City.
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The EFL Cup has continued to be a fruitful avenue for Boyce who netted a hat-trick this season against Morecambe before scoring a consolation goal against Leicester City in the fourth round.
He featured in their recent win over Fleetwood Town but manager Nigel Clough indicated that Boyce may have played his final game for the club, following the growing interest in his signature from Sunderland.
Boyce clearly has a keen eye for goal at this level and could be a very strong signing for Parkinson if he can ensure he is provided with the service to utilise his abilities. For Burton, Boyce has scored all manners of goals, with both feet and his head, finding space in tight areas to score from all angles.