Martin needs to look at the transfer window, but who should he bring in?
Well hello again Roker Reportees, hope you're having a splendid day, and that the hangovers have started to slip away before we all work on a new one with NYE just around the corner.
As you all know, January is almost upon us, meaning that transfer silly season is on its way too. With this in mind, I thought I'd take a little look at who could be, and perhaps should be on Martin O'Neill's radar once the transfer window opens, before inevitably slamming shut at the end of next month.
Admittedly, we'd all like to see Cristiano Ronaldo come back to England and throw on the red and white stripes, or even someone a little less famous, such as Blackburn's defensive bohemoth Chris Samba, but the top four seem to have their own eyes on him, so we've kept it to attainable targets.
So, without further ado...
Nicky Maynard, Striker, Bristol City (Expected Price £3m)
As mentioned by the good captain Michael Graham and head honcho Simon Walsh, Nicky Maynard might be someone who the top brass at the club will be taking a good look at come January. To fuel the potential story, Bristol City have made the frontman available for transfer.
After starting life at Crewe Alexandra's much-praised academy, before moving on to Bristol City via a loan spell at Wilton Albion, the nearly six-feet tall frontman has scored 80 goals in a career spanning only 179 games. For stats fans among you, that's at an average of one goal every 2.4 games.
While he has never been tested at a higher level than the Championship, Maynard is attracting a lot of attention in the football world, and now may be as good a time as any to hand the 25-year-old his first opportunity in the top flight of the English game.
Papiss Cisse, Striker, SC Freiburg (Expected Price £8-10m)
Something of a longer term target, the Senegalese frontman has been linked with a move to the North East for quite a while, although he's often linked with any other team that's looking for goals too.
With an impressive nine goals in 15 games this season, and having notched 22 last season for SC Freiberg in the Bundesliga, the African is experiencing a sizable purple patch in his career at the moment. At 26 years old, he still has a lot of years at the top ahead of him, although with the African Cup of Nations on the horizon, Cisse's involvement in the tournament would cast doubt over any potential deal.
However, with seven goals in only 12 games at international level, Cisse certainly looks like 'the real deal'.
Nedum Onuoha, Defender, Manchester City (Expected Price £2-3m)
Although Sunderland's defence has looked better this season than in recent times, Craig Gardner's participation at right back against Everton shows that we don't have particular strength in depth in that department.
Onuoha however provides a versatile option across any position in the back four. Generally happiest as a centre back, but more than happy as a right back, as we all saw during his loan spell last season, he would provide valuable cover to Brown (who hasn't been injured yet this season, and it is probably on its way), O'Shea (injured a lot), Turner (also an injury magnet) and Bramble (who knows what 2012 will bring for him).
Although it's not known how much suitors would have to pay for Nedum, Roberto Mancini said recently that he wants him to leave the club on a permanent basis in January, but has no intention of sending him out on loan. For the right money, Onuoha could be a key ingredient in the Sunderland back line.
Bobby Zamora, Striker, Fulham (Expected Price £6-8m)
'When the ball hits your head, and you're sat in row Z, that's Zamora...'
Ah Bobby, another big centre forward that we have discussed on the podcast in recent weeks. It seems that his time at Fulham is coming to an end, and in the words of David Boyle, 'I think that Zamora leaving is nailed on, he hasn't figured for weeks now, and could be that target man for Wickham, Campbell or Sess to play off that we've been looking for. At least he'll give a toss, unlike a certain Danish pizza payment dodging somebody that we have at the moment'.
Zamora's transfer fee would almost certainly be the main talking point if a deal was being discussed, and I don't think the club would touch him if Fulham asked for £10m, as has been reported, but a lower fee could see the striker make his way to the Stadium of Light.
Jordan Rhodes, Striker, Huddersfield (Expected Price £2-3m)
A little left-field this one, as Huddersfield Town striker Rhodes is prolific in League One, but the young English-born Scot looks to have a terrific future ahead of him. The past two seasons has seen him top 20 goals in the third-tier, and, according the ever-accurate source that is Wikipedia, he has 26 goals in 26 appearances this season, including all four as Huddersfield drew 4-4 with Sheffield Wednesday recently.
While he may not be the finished article yet, Rhodes is only 21 years old, and it seems likely that he's only going to improve in the future. Although we already have Wickham at the club who is young and a prospect for the future, big names are already whispering about this particular frontman, and landing him at a reasonable price now could pay dividends in the future.
Emile Heskey, Striker, Aston Villa (Expected Price £0-500k)
Yup. Don't count it out.
So, what can we learn from this list? As we all already knew, we are in serious need of a frontman. Whether it is the bustling target man type, or a ruthless goalscorer, we certainly need someone capable of sticking the ball in the net, and providing balance at the top of the park.
Who would you prefer to see the Stadium of Light? Who have I missed off the list? Who else would you like to bring in? Let us know in the comments section.