James McFadden has had a miserable few years as a footballer. When he signed for Birmingham in 2008, he cost them £5 million, only a few months earlier he had scored the goal that gave Scotland their most famous recent victory, 1-0 against France in Paris. But his time in the midlands was marred by injury, particularly so in his final year there, when he only managed five appearances for the club.
Last season he rejoined Everton, where he had made his name in English football, but struggled to get into the first team, making only eight appearances for the Toffees.
McFadden has recently been training with Sunderland, and has apparently done enough to impress Martin O'Neill as he is likely to be signed for the rest of the season. This could be a very good move for both parties, McFadden is only 29, and has shown enough in the past to make himself worth taking a risk on.
However the worry will be that he will suffer the same problems he had last year at Everton, and will struggle to get into the first team.
McFadden can play as an out and out striker, or as a supporting attacking player. But this is an area where Sunderland are fairly well stocked. Steven Fletcher is clearly the main man in attack, Sunderland aren’t going to be dropping him soon after his goal-scoring start.
McFadden will be tussling with Frazier Campbell, Louis Saha and Conor Wickham for appearances in this position. If he is going to drop a little deeper he may face even more competition. Having added Adam Johnson to Sessegnon, Larsson and Mclean, O'Neill has a wealth of attacking midfielder options to call on.
At this stage of this career McFadden needs to be playing matches. he would suit Sunderland's style under O'Neill, and clearly has a wealth of experience to bring to the side, having made more than 150 Premier League appearances.
If he cannot break into the team soon though, he may end spending a third straight season on the sidelines as he moves into his thirties. McFadden has had a good career so far, but maybe hasn't had the success his talent could have merited, this year with the Black Cats may be a last throw of the dice in the Premier League. If he cannot get the playing time, he may need to look elsewhere next year.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald