Kevin Phillips has claimed that Sunderland striker Charlie Wyke can be a “handful” for any defender in League One. 

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Black Cats hero suggested that the 27-year-old can be a real danger man for the Mackems, but insisted that he needs a decent run in the side to realise his full potential.

The hitman has found himself ahead of the struggling Will Grigg in the pecking order at the Stadium of Light in recent weeks, starting his side’s last eight matches in League One.

And Phillips believes that Phil Parkinson’s faith in the player will begin to pay off sooner rather than later.

“I think what Wyke needs is just to play regular,” he told Football Insider. 

“I know as a player if you play one week and then you’re not playing for two games, you need play regularly to get the best out of him.

“If that means that every club knows the style that you’re going to play, playing off him, it doesn’t matter, just make it work, make it difficult for teams to play against.

“He’s a handful in that league and you ask any defender, when you come up against a 6’1”, 6’2” striker that’s a handful, it’s difficult and if you’ve got players running off him, like [Chris] Maguire, it’s hard to play against.”

Wyke has hit four goals and one assist in 21 appearances for the Wearsiders so far this season, with his most recent strike coming in the 4-0 demolition of promotion rivals Wycombe Wanderers earlier this month.

Over the course of his entire League One career, which also included spells with Hartlepool United and Bradford City, the forward has 31 strikes in 123 outings – an average of just under one every four matches.

In other Sunderland news, the Blacks Cats have offered Will Grigg in part-exchange for a midfielder.