O'NEILL TO ASSESS STRIKING OPTIONS
Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill will look at his strikers as a matter of priority as he plans the way forward.
The Ulsterman inherited a pool of frontmen from predecessor Steve Bruce comprising Nicklas Bendtner, Fraizer Campbell, Ji Dong-won and Connor Wickham.
However, with Campbell still fighting his way back to full match sharpness after his latest lengthy injury lay-off and Ji and Wickham inexperienced at Barclays Premier League level, his options have been severely limited.
Bendtner, of course, is only on loan to the club for the season from Arsenal, and O'Neill knows there are big decisions to be made this summer.
He said: "Of course it's a position that you would be looking at, considering that one of our main strikers actually is on loan.
"That situation has not been resolved, nor have we had any time to do that.
"But when you have one of your main strikers as a loan player, then of course it becomes important for you to look at centre-forwards."
O'Neill has relied largely upon Bendtner, since his return from a nasty facial injury, as a lone frontman with Benin international Stephane Sessegnon playing off him, and while both have contributed significantly, the goals have dried up in recent weeks.
Sunderland have not scored in their last four league games, and while that barren run has resulted in only one defeat, it has meant their season appears to be drawing to a close with a whimper rather than a bang.
Bendtner has contributed seven goals, including one penalty, while Sessegnon has eight to his name to date, and while both have provided much more in terms of their all round play, winger Sebastian Larsson is joint top with the former Paris St Germain player in the scoring stakes.
The Arsenal striker has been widely tipped to sever his ties with the Gunners this summer after struggling to force his way into Arsene Wenger's plans.
But the Gunners' valuation of the 24-year-old Denmark international could dictate his destination amid suggestions he might command as much as £9million.
Whether or not owner and chairman Ellis Short is prepared to sanction that kind of investment remains to be seen with O'Neill yet to discuss his summer transfer plans with the Texan.
The manager must also address persistent reports of Sessegnon's apparent homesickness with former club PSG, as well as Arsenal and Tottenham, said to be monitoring his situation.
However, O'Neill has repeatedly insisted the player is happy on Wearside, and that he is desperate to retain his services.
Sunderland have already been linked with a series of summer transfer targets, including Wolves frontman Steven Fletcher, but with the former Aston Villa boss not having spent in January, it seems certain he will do his homework rather than rush into hasty signings.
Meanwhile, defender John O'Shea is hoping he can stay fit for the remainder of the season as he targets a strong finish to send him into the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2012 campaign in top form.
O'Shea, who returned from a calf injury to play 90 minutes in Saturday's 0-0 draw at Villa, told the club's official website, www.safc.com: "Fingers crossed, I can stay fit for the rest of the season and we can pick up a few more wins as it's frustrating when we are not scoring.
"We have to take that into the last three games - we need to finish as high up in the league that we can."
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