Although seen by many as predominantly a winger, new signing Jeremain Lens played as a striker under Advocaat at PSV Eindhoven and due to lack of pace and, perhaps, the ability to beat a man in our other attacking options it had been speculated that the Dutchman had been signed to play predominantly as a centre forward.
Advocaat explained to the Sunderland Echo that the signing of the former Dynamo Kiev man gives him plenty of options in attack. Dick said:
"We have to think about whether we will stick with the 4-3-3. But Lens is not really a player for a 4-4-2. He can go in between the lines and likes going past his man. We don’t have that with Wickham. Connor works his socks off, but he doesn’t go past players, he’s a different type of player. Lens is one who likes to chase players.
He can play left and right. He can even play as a striker, sometime I used him like that at PSV. But left or right is his best position because he is always a threat there. We haven’t had that."
It certainly makes sense. It wasn't ideal having to play Connor Wickham and Jermain Defoe out wide last season as neither player are particularly good at taking on and beating their man, as Dick suggests, making attacking and breaking teams down difficult. With Lens and Johnson on the wings we have two players capable of not only doing that, but also creating chances for the rest of the team.
Elsewhere, the gaffer is impressed with how hard Jack Rodwell and Emanuele Giaccherini are working in pre-season and has urged Rodwell in particular to recapture the form he showed as a youngster at Everton.
Talking about Rodwell's performance in the 3-1 defeat to Mexican side Pachuca, Advocaat said:
"He could have scored two or three. In the first 15 minutes, it was the way I know Jack from Everton. That has to continue and improve, but I can see the difference in him. You can see Giaccherini is a little bit out of air because it’s unbelievable how hard he’s training."
Rodwell has a huge opportunity this summer to really solidify his place in the side. After being less than convincing last season Dick Advocaat is keen to afford him a second chance to prove himself and should he do just that it gives the manager a huge headache going forward, especially with the club looking to sign a quality central midfielder that offers something different to what the rest of our midfielders do.
In other news, Robbie Stockdale's U21's side face a tough test in Scottish Premier League side Hamilton Acidemical this coming Saturday, taking on the Accies at Eppleton Colliery Welfare in a 3pm kick off. There's no free access for season card holders this time around, with prices set at £3 for adults and £1 for over-65s and under-16s.