Phil Parkinson’s Sunderland are now just three points off the top of League One with Chris Maguire in outstanding form.

Sunderland hero Alex Rae believes the Black Cats pulled off a coup when they brought Chris Maguire to Wearside, telling the Echo that he tried to sign the mercurial winger when he was a coach at Blackpool.

If Sunderland fans were fretting about the January departure of magic man Aiden McGeady, they needn’t have worried.

Maguire, who like the now-departed Irishman, can flip from the anonymous to the unstoppable in the blinking of an eye and has stepped up in style in the last few weeks, netting a thumping winner against promotion rivals Ipswich Town before producing two assists in a 3-0 thrashing of Rochdale.

Suddenly, a player who moved to the Stadium of Light on a free transfer from Bury looks like one of the most inspired bargain signings in Sunderland’s recent history – a point Rae was at pains to make.

“Maguire was a good piece of business,” said Rae, who spent five years wearing red and white stripes before spending a brief spell on the Blackpool coaching staff alongside Paul Ince in 2013.

“I remember him. He was at Sheffield Wednesday when I was doing a little bit of work with Blackpool, and I always fancied him.

“When he went to Sunderland, I thought he could do a job there.”

Glasgow-born Rae is thrilled to see a reliable core of British players help drive Sunderland’s recent rise, with Phil Parkinson’s side now just three points off top spot having dropped into mid-table obscurity not so long ago.

Maguire has 11 goals and ten assists in all competitions this season.

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