Sunderland let star striker Ross Stewart leave on deadline day but brought in four more frontmen over the summer
Sunderland possess more goal threat this season than last despite the deadline day departure of star striker Ross Stewart, according to Niall Huggins.
Stewart scored 26 times as the Black Cats finished fifth in League One and won promotion via the play-offs the season before last, and he scored 10 goals in 13 outings to help them finish sixth in the Championship last term even though he missed almost three quarters of the campaign through injury.
He has since joined Championship rivals Southampton at the beginning of the month, but it is because Stewart spent so long on the sidelines last term that defender Huggins feels that the attacking reinforcements Sunderland have brought in over the summer have given them greater threat.
The Black Cats have added four strikers, with Luis Hemir, Nazariy Rusyn, and Eliezer Mayenda all joining on permanent deals, while Chelsea’s Mason Burstow has arrived on a season-long loan.
“I feel like last season we were brilliant and finished high up the table, even though Ross was out and we didn’t have that main threat,” said Huggins. “With bringing players in we probably have more of a threat up top now.
“It’s just working the players in and getting them used to playing, it just adds another dynamic to our team that I think we’ll start to unlock even more as the weeks go on.”
Of the new crop of strikers, Burstow has started Sunderland’s last three games while Portuguese Hemir has started one and made half-a-dozen outings as a substitute.
Latest signing from Ukraine Rusyn made his debut as a substitute against Cardiff City on Sunday, while Spaniard Mayenda has yet to get involved after picking up a hamstring injury almost as soon as he arrived although he is now close to full fitness.
Sunderland’s strikers have yet to get off the mark, yet are still the division’s fourth-highest scorers with 15 goals in their first eight games with winger Jack Clarke scoring five times, while midfielders Jobe Bellingham, Dan Neil, and Pierre Ekwah have scored two apiece, and Bradley Dack, Abdoullah Ba, Chris Rigg, and Dan Ballard one each.
Fifth-placed Sunderland lost 1-0 at home to Cardiff City on Sunday, a defeat that ended their five-game unbeaten run, and their season continues on Friday evening when Tony Mowbray’s men travel to Hillsborough to take on bottom-of-the-table Sheffield Wednesday who are still searching for their first win since winning promotion.