MICHAEL Beale has told his three Sunderland strikers they could potentially all have a crucial role to play in the coming week.

The Black Cats are looking to extend their unbeaten Championship run to three games when Plymouth visit the Stadium of Light on Saturday, before a trip to Huddersfield in midweek followed by next Saturday's reunion with Tony Mowbray at Birmingham.

Beale hinted at squad rotation throughout the week, particularly up-front, where Nazariy Rusyn is pushing for a recall to the starting XI after his goal from the bench at Middlesbrough last week.


Beale sees Ruysn is a versatile forward rather than purely a No.9 but it's up-front as the line leader where the Ukrainian will continue to play his football this season, with Sunderland well stocked elsewhere in the attack but short of strikers.

"In the front three, he is right at the forefront of my thoughts," said Beale of Ruysn, who could replace Mason Burstow in the starting XI against Plymouth.

"He's a bit of a hybrid really, he's not just a number nine. It'd be unfair to say that he's just a nine because he can dribble, he likes to pull out wide and his energy is really good. These next three games you'll certainly see Rusyn playing, yeah.

"With three games in a week, you might have to share the load and I'm not ruling out Luis Hemir in that picture, either.

"It might be that they have to share the load, someone starts and then someone else gets the benefit of their hard work [off the bench] and then vice versa.

"You want forwards to pose different questions at times, as well. Mason did really well playing a bit deeper against Stoke, allowing Jack and Abdoullah to get much higher up the pitch. It didn't work as well as we'd have liked against Middlesbrough, and then Naz came on and I think that you saw with Middlesbrough pushing, the extra space really helped him.

"He likes that space to run, so we need to use everybody."

After the long wait for a goal from a Sunderland striker this season, Ruysn has scored twice since the turn of the year and Burstow broke his duck in the recent Stoke win.

Beale said: "I think that's been the conundrum for everyone here this season - how do you get the best of these guys? I think we're slowly starting to see positive signs and I'm optimistic about what I've seen from these guys."