| 17.3°C Belfast

Will Grigg opens up on 'difficult' Sunderland struggles as Northern Ireland striker vows to fight for his place

 

Close

Will Grigg has played only three minutes of League One football since December.

Will Grigg has played only three minutes of League One football since December.

CameraSport via Getty Images

Will Grigg has played only three minutes of League One football since December.

Northern Ireland international Will Grigg isn’t one to give up easily.

In 18 months at Sunderland, the 29-year-old has scored just eight goals and so far failed in his aim of being the man to fire the Black Cats back into the Championship.

He was signed for a reported £4m in the closing minutes of the January transfer window 2019 to replace star striker Josh Maja, who had departed for Bordeux earlier that month.

The Sunderland ‘Til I Die documentary would later reveal then manager Jack Ross warning owner Stewart Donald against over-paying for a player he deemed ‘not worth’ more than the £1.25m the club had initially bid on the final day of the window.

It was a less than glowing reference from his soon-to-be boss and would prove perhaps prophetic, as Grigg failed to replace the 15 League One goals Maja had scored in the first half of the campaign, weighing in with just four of his own.

Last term brought only increased frustrations, as Grigg has played just three minutes of league football since the turn of the year under Phil Parkinson, who replaced Ross as manager in October.

The arrival of an international team-mate in January didn’t help his case but with Kyle Lafferty’s short-term deal not renewed and Grigg still having two years to run on his own contract, he’s intent on fulfilling his original objective of promotion.

"Until I'm told otherwise I'm a Sunderland player,” he told Talksport. "It's obviously a massive club and I want to achieve what I came here for.”

Grigg hasn’t enjoyed any better fortunes at international level, having last featured for Northern Ireland in October 2018.

If he’s going to stake any sort of claim for a recall under new boss Ian Baraclough, he knows he must first regain his place as a Sunderland starter.

"It's been difficult,” he said of his shut-out at club level. “I didn't play as well as I hoped and then the change in style hasn't necessarily benefited me.

"To be part of a League One squad and not even make the bench of be on the bench and not used, it's something I've found really frustrating. I’d like to think at League One level I’d play in any team and score goals, regardless of what team I’m in.

"It’s personally been very difficult."

Belfast Telegraph