IT was the formation that transformed the closing stages of Saturday’s home win over Ipswich Town, and Sunderland’s management team sees no reason why Charlie Wyke and Kyle Lafferty cannot form a potent attacking partnership from the start of matches in the remainder of the season.

When Lafferty was signed as a free agent last month, it was widely assumed he had been brought in to provide cover for Wyke, with the two strikers sharing similar physical attributes.

Prior to last weekend, all three of Lafferty’s substitute appearances had seen him replace Wyke in the closing stages of games, but against Ipswich, Phil Parkinson paired the two frontmen together for the final 11 minutes.

The tactical ploy worked, with Sunderland’s remodelled forward line troubling the Ipswich defence and paving the way for Chris Maguire’s late winner.

Parkinson must now decide whether to start with Lafferty alongside Wyke when Rochdale visit the Stadium of Light tonight, and while he did not want to give anything anyway when he stepped in for press duties yesterday, assistant boss Steve Parkin admitted there are strong temptations to go with a front two.

“People say it’s harder to play that way for the full 90 minutes, but I don’t necessarily think that’s the case,” said Parkin. “Charlie’s got football intelligence and he’s good at bringing people into play, we saw that at the weekend.

“Kyle has also got good touch, but he’s a runner as well. He can run down the side of people, and I think the pair of them together could be a threat, I really do.

“It’s not just about that, it’s also about making sure you have the right balance to the rest of the team around them, but I definitely think it’s a viable option. You have to have the right balance, both in and out of possession, but it’s certainly not something that we’ve dismissed.”

Lafferty is desperate to make a positive impression, having signed a short-term deal to the end of the season after leaving Norwegian side Sarpsborg.

He is on something of a career retrieval mission after his spell in the Norwegian Tippeligaen did not go to plan, and Parkin has been impressed with the 32-year-old’s approach since moving to the North-East.

“He’s a proper character, and I mean that in a nice way,” said the Sunderland number two. “He seems a smashing fella, and he really does want to do well here. I think he’s sensible enough to know that he’s had to be patient because of the run we’ve been on, but I think he’s also known that his time will come.”