Sunderland scouts have been told to concentrate on looking for a new Andy Carroll to raise the side to European qualification, according to The Daily Mirror.
Black Cats manager Steve Bruce has called on Sunderland to find a tall striker who can show authority on the pitch, just as Carroll does.
“There are a few players here. One or two tall players around," Bruce told reports. "The key to it is whether someone will want to take on the mantle, a focal point in this journey. Expectations are starting to simmer now.
“It will be a character search as much as an ability search. And if we are able to keep Danny Welbeck for a time, Fraizer Campbell is bursting to get going again, and then Asamoah Gyan has a real battle on his hands. That’s what we need."
Sunderland currently sit at ninth on the Barclays Premier League table, and are 11 points shy of fifth placed Tottenham, which is where the current lowest qualification spot for European action exists.
Bruce believes that with a striker like Andy Carroll, Sunderland can close the gap between mid table and European qualification.
“We want that part of the pitch covered. It is a big search, a big ask to try to find that type of player. We want someone with a physical presence," he said.
“You can see the profile of players we have here at the moment. They are youngish. We know it's not about piling a load of players together to get one good season out of them only for it all to disappear down the drain.”