TONY MOWBRAY is confident Sunderland will have made at least one new signing to address their striker shortage before the new Championship season begins in a week-and-a-half’s time.

With Ross Stewart set to be sidelined until the end of September, and Joe Gelhardt having returned to Leeds United following the end of last season’s loan spell, the Black Cats are currently extremely short of options in the attacking third.

Hemir is finding his feet after his summer move from Benfica, but having only ever played for the Portuguese side’s B team, the 19-year-old is hardly the kind of experienced campaigner who could be expected to hit the ground running in a new country with only a couple of weeks of intensive training under his belt.

The Black Cats have been linked with a number of forwards this summer, with Everton youngster Tom Cannon known to be a live target, but as things stand, they will head into their penultimate pre-season friendly against Real Mallorca this weekend without any new faces in the squad.

Mowbray accepts that has to change quickly, and is confident Sunderland’s recruitment team, headed by sporting director Kristjaan Speakman, will achieve a transfer breakthrough before Ipswich Town visit the Stadium of Light for the opening game of the new campaign on August 6.


“I think we’ve got the nucleus of a team – probably even beyond the nucleus of a team,” said the Black Cats boss, who returned from Sunderland’s pre-season tour of the United States earlier this week. “As I’ve been saying, I think we still need some additions at the top end of the pitch, and we’re working really hard behind the scenes to make that happen. I’m pretty confident that given the timescale to the next game, we’ll have some help in, in that area.

“I just feel at the moment that we probably need to supplement Hemir and make sure that we’re not relying on a young boy to be the striker for too long. We need some options.”

Hemir has caught the eye during Sunderland’s early pre-season games, scoring in his first appearance in a red-and-white shirt against South Shields and netting again against New Mexico United in the second game of the club’s US tour.

He remains completely unproven at Championship level though, with Mowbray admitting that the defensive side of the game could come as something of a shock to him once the real action begins.

“I think Hemir has showed that he’s a goal threat,” he said. “He’s been in and around things – even the game he played at South Shields, he scored a goal in the six-yard box with his head. He scored another one very similar on the USA trip, a header in the box from a (Alex) Pritchard cross.

“He already looks as though there’s goals in him because I’ve seen the evidence of his right foot, how he can slap the ball in the net really hard. He just has to get up to speed with us, really, and get used to what’s expected of him out of possession in terms of the work-rate, closing down and chasing about. Once that penny drops, I’m sure we’ve got a good player.”