CHARLIE Wyke and Marc McNulty are ready to return for Sunderland, offering a welcome attacking boost to boss Phil Parkinson.

Just 11 games into his stretch as manager on Wearside, Parkinson has been under fire from supporters.

They have scored only 11 goals on his watch, with five of those coming in the win over Tranmere on October 22. Since then, it’s been a paltry six in nine outings.

McNulty is the more likely of the pair to be involved at Gillingham today, the Black Cats back at the Priestfield Stadium just two and a half weeks after losing their in a desperate FA Cup defeat.

“We'll have a look at them again in training on Friday,’’ said Parkinson. “Marc is probably ahead of Charlie because he's had a shorter period out.

“With Marc it was his third time he had a problem with his hamstring this season. But the medical department have scanned his back, scanned the hamstring, realised there was no muscle damage, and it was coming from a back and nerve problem.

“So he's had an injection, an epidural in his back and he's feeling really good, and he's delighted that we've got to the bottom of that problem because when you have three similar injuries and in a season, you do start becoming a little bit nervous or paranoid as a player. So he's feeling good.’’

He added: “I think when you're a player like Marc who relies on his speed to get away from defenders, if you are limited in the back of your mind and you're worried about your hamstring, that has a negative effect on you.

“So it's very important that, even though we knew it wasn't a long term injury, that the medical department looked at it more closely and found out that it was coming from his back.’’

Wyke’s presence up front fits the template for a Parkinson side. Will Grigg isn’t that sort of player to link up play and compete against centre-halves.

This is the first time Parkinson has managed Wyke, but the striker has played only 45 minutes for his new manager before suffering ankle ligament damage in the defeat at Wycombe Wanderers.

Parkinson has long admired the former Middlesbrough trainee and missed out on him when he left Bradford for Sunderland in August last year.

“It was when Sunderland signed him,’’ reflected Parkinson. “We we're trying to try to get him at the time but didn't have the funds, unfortunately.

“Charlie, himself, he's had a disrupted period since he's been at the club. He came into the club injured, came back not quite in the best shape he needed to be. But he's ready to go again and that's great for us all.

“I just think it's another option at the top of the pitch. You need four strikers for me, and when we're playing with one out and out striker and obviously young Benji, who we know he's got work to do before he's ready, your options are very limited.

“So Charlie's a good player, they all have their own different qualities and it's just good to have the option of playing Charlie when he's ready and match fit.

“Charlie scores from crosses, it's as simple as that. If you look at his goals, and I've said it many times since I've been here, that's what he thrives off. So any strikers we've got to supply the service line for them, and I'm sure if you look at Charlie's career, when the delivery's been right for him, he's put the ball in the back of the net.’’

Parkinson’s backroom staff has been added to since their last game with the arrival of Andrew Taylor.

The Hartlepool-born left back left Bolton Wanderers at the end of last season as the club imploded and has been weighing up his options since, with a move into football administration among his thoughts as he completed a degree.

But the chance to get back into the game under his former boss proved too good an opportunity.

Parkinson said: “Tayls has been with us for a week now and he's fitted in really well. He's done some coaching already in his career. He's got a very good personality; strong opinion, and knows the game inside out.

“He's played at all levels of the game - played at the top level. He's got a good understanding and he'll have a good rapport with the lads, which is very important.’’