Sunderland’s players urged to help striker James Vaughan get off the mark at Hull City

James Vaughan battles against Sheffield United in last weekends home defeat. Picture by Frank Reid.
James Vaughan battles against Sheffield United in last weekends home defeat. Picture by Frank Reid.

Boss Simon Grayson has called on James Vaughan’s team-mates to help the striker as he prepares to lead the line for Sunderland at the KCOM Stadium today.

Lewis Grabban will be missing against Hull due to a hamstring injury, as Vaughan still searches for his first Black Cats goal.

Grayson says the Black Cats must resist the temptation to use summer signing Vaughan as an easy out-ball and ensure they share the goalscoring load.

The Sunderland manager said: “He needs a goal. When you look back to pre-season, missing two penalties wasn’t the ideal way to start because when a striker comes to a new club you want to score a goal as soon as possible.

“It’s one of those situations where a striker can go a period of time without scoring a goal and then they get one that goes in off their backside, or a shinner, or something like that and it can kick-start them and they go on a run.

“Let’s hope that’s the case with James.

“You can’t just be reliant on your centre-forwards, though.

“Everybody has to chip in – the wide players, the midfielders, we have to be better from set-pieces in terms of delivery and people attacking the ball and wanting to score.

“You saw on Tuesday night that we played some good stuff, we didn’t go long that often, we went through the lines, midfield players got into pockets.

“That will hopefully allow the strikers to get into better positions and more comfortable positions, rather than where it was a couple of weeks ago where it was hopeful long balls.

“You’ve got to mix your game up and go direct sometimes but we need to pass it around, get the ball wide.

“Vaughany probably thrives on crosses because he wants to get on the end of things, whereas we’ve been a bit to straight at times to him, which can be the easy option when the team isn’t playing with the confidence levels they want to.”

Grayson was encouraged by his side’s improvement against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night, despite the obvious disappointment with the 1-0 defeat.

He wants his players to show bravery on the ball to end their losing streak against an out-of-form Hull side.

He said: “It’s only natural. When things are not going the way you want them to go, you start to take the easy option.

“The reverse of that is that when you are full of confidence and flying, you’ll try something that you wouldn’t expect and it will come off for you.

“That’s the difference at the moment, particularly at the top end of the pitch, where, when we get into those key areas, we are taking an extra touch to try and get the shot off at the right time, or settling a bit too long before making a pass, and that delay can allow the opposition to get the block in or get back into position.

“If things are going your way, you’ll shoot first time or cross the ball first-time and it doesn’t allow the opposition to get back in to position.

“It’s fine margins, and we have to get the players into a situation where they have that confidence and belief.”