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Five Struggling Sunderland Players To Thrive Under Allardyce

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Which of the current Sunderland squad has the most reason to be happy about Sam Allardyce's arrival? We give you five suggestions to get you going.

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Steven Fletcher

Let's face it, barring the odd and isolated brilliant performance, Steven Fletcher has been a disaster for Sunderland since injuring his ankle during his first season under Martin O'Neill.

He has been a constant frustration too, but he is the kind of player you could see Sam Allardyce reinvigorating. You'd expect more crosses to start coming into the box and a more pragmatic approach to bringing the centre forward into play generally.

There are also signs that Fletcher is starting to come into a bit of confidence, scoring a splendid goal against West Ham and then netting again for Scotland.

Jack Rodwell

I remember once reading a Superman comic (DON'T JUDGE ME!!) where he lost his memory but didn't know what he was so didn't realise what he could do. It was rubbish. I wouldn't recommend it.

But anyway, it has often reminded me a little of Rodwell. There is clearly a very good player in there capable of an awful lot that we are not seeing. However, he doesn't seem to know what he is. Is he a box-to-box man? A holding midfielder? A centre back? Does he play best off the front?

It doesn't matter really. The point is that you'd fancy Allardyce to tell him precisely what he is and precisely what he needs to be doing, and his game should be far better for it.

Patrick van Aanholt

The former Chelsea man is really struggling this season. He looks absolutely shot to pieces mentally.

I do have sympathy for him, though. He has been given absolutely no protection in front of him and, while we question his decision-making, he is often left without a good decision available as his flank is overloaded.

That's something you'd expect Allardyce to put right as a priority, and long term Van Aanholt may actually be shown how to defend for himself too.

Adam Johnson

I probably wasn't the only one who watched Allardyce's reinvention of Stewart Downing last season and wondered is a similar central attacking role could work for Johnson too.

When he's right, I am not sure we have a better player than Johnson. He has guile and creativity that isn't exactly common elsewhere in the squad.

I suppose it's tough talking about Johnson's longer-term future right now, but he's the kind of player Allardyce has done well with in the past.

Younes Kaboul

On paper, Kaboul has everything an archetypal Allardyce centre back needs. He's big, strong, dominant in the air, and doesn't mind getting stuck in.

Dick Advocaat's more expansive system has exposed Kaboul's positional struggles, but the defence will likely be a lot more compact now and it should suit the Frenchman down to the ground.

I suppose he can't really get any worse, anyway.