Mick McCarthy confirmed today that Kevin Kyle is his first choice for a striker going into the new season.
Kyle, 22, scored the first of two Sunderland goals in the recent 2-2 draw at Hibernian, as part of the club’s pre-season friendly programme.
In the squad number reshuffle announced last week, Kyle was awarded the prestigious number 9 shirt, and McCarthy said today “I’ve given him the No 9 shirt and I can’t give him a bigger vote of confidence.
“I want goals out of him and I want him to upset people. He’s doing that at the moment and as long as he’s doing that he’ll be my preferred striker.”
And McCarthy also hinted that there may yet be a regular place on the teamsheet for John Oster; the 24 year-old Welshman has scored three goals so far in Sunderland’s pre-season tour – including, like Kyle, a goal against Hibs. But despite taking only a very marginal role for Sunderland during Peter Reid and Howard Wilkinson’s respective tenures and spending time on loan at Barnsley and Grimsby, the current manager singled out Oster for praise. “John Oster has been excellent. He’s got so much ability it’s frightening – but he’s got to do it every week.
“The squad that travelled today is the sort of squad that will challenge for places in my side.”