According to a recent report from The Northern Echo, Ashley Fletcher’s future remains far from certain heading into the rest of the January window. The 23-year-old currently plays his football at Championship outfit Middlesbrough and has done so since leaving West Ham back in 2017, but struggles for regular game time under Boro boss Tony Pulis this season has plunged his future on Teesside into doubt.
And a recent report from The Northern Echo suggests that the second tier outfit are happy to offload the young striker this month in a bid to raise funds, which should be of keen interest to Sunderland manager Jack Ross, as moving back to the Stadium of Light could be what Fletcher needs to finally get his stagnating career going.
Ultimately, the 23-year-old came up through the ranks at Premier League giants Manchester United but failed to make a senior appearance for the Red Devils, eventually leaving Old Trafford back in 2016 in a bid to progress with his professional career.
And while a loan spell at Barnsley, in what proved to be his final season at United, was fruitful, having netted nine times in 27 games for the Tykes, things simply haven’t worked out at all for the Englishman since then with a failed stint at West Ham, and indeed a failing stint at Middlesbrough.
And with just six Championship appearances for Pulis’ Boro so far this season, things don’t look like improving anytime soon for Fletcher at the North East club, but a move across the region to the Stadium of Light could be what he needs to finally move forward with his professional career.
Yes, Sunderland fans won’t forget the testing loan spell the 23-year-old had at their club in the second half of last season, as the youngster made the move to the Stadium of Light in a bid to aid the Black Cats with their Championship survival, only to bag twice in 16 league games for Chris Coleman’s men as they eventually lost their second tier status.
But with things very much looking up at Sunderland this time round under new boss Ross, what with the Black Cats third in League One heading into the second half of the campaign, he’d be going into a completely different environment to last term, and one that might just enable him to rebuild his confidence after a testing few years.
Ultimately, there is clearly a very adept striker in Fletcher given he bagged nine times for Barnsley in League One back in 2016, while his struggles in any league higher than that suggests that, for the time being, the third tier is very much his level.
And with the Black Cats eyeing up an immediate return to the Championship this season, having a player like Fletcher in their ranks could prove to be a huge asset to Ross as the campaign progresses – and with top-scorer Josh Maja reportedly (as per the BBC) on his way out of the club this month, a striker will likely be top of Ross’ priorities.
And they could do a lot worse than seek to lure £3.15 million-rated Fletcher (as per Transfermarkt) back to the Stadium of Light – yes, things didn’t go at all well last time round for the 23-year-old, but in a forward-thinking and upwardly-mobile Sunderland team, a move back to the North East giants could be exactly what he needs to get his career going again.
Significantly, it could also seriously aid the Black Cats in their quest to return to the Championship at the first time of asking.
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