I think it’s clear for all to see that Billy Jones is not a central defender. However, with injuries and sickness affecting Lamine Kone, Tyias Browning, and Marc Wilson Sunderland have resorted to calling upon the former West Brom player to partner John O’Shea in the centre of Sunderland’s defence. Aye... things are that desperate.
But if truth be told, it’s difficult to comprehend why Simon Grayson has resorted to playing an average full-back at centre-half when there’s a young, hungry centre-back waiting patiently for his chance to impress.
I honestly can’t fathom why we’re not giving Tom Beadling a chance to prove his worth in his natural position. I’d rather play inexperienced lads in their preferred positions rather than shoe-horning more experienced players into unfamiliar roles. We’ve tried the latter option for the last several seasons, and look where that’s got us.
On Saturday Grayson admitted that he had been forced to keep playing Adam Matthews despite him suffering a knee injury:
Full credit to him, he stuck in there and contributed, and started us off for the goal. He was hobbling around for 20 minutes (with a knee injury), but there are some good kids in that dressing room, good lads who want to do well for the club.
I don’t think Grayson was talking about the likes of Beadling when he mentioned some “good kids,” and to me that’s incredibly irritating. Whether removing Matthews would have been a good move or not is a moot point, but moving forward we really should be looking at giving players like Beadling a chance when we’re desperate for cover.
We’ve asked Lynden Gooch and George Honeyman to step up and play a role this year, so why not afford Beadling the same chance? Honeyman had been all but written off by the club last season, and was linked with a move away during last January’s window, yet he’s shown more desire and quality than most this campaign. He isn’t perfect, but he’s certainly a valuable player to the side.
Last night the U23s lost away to Arsenal, and Tom Beadling was named Man of the Match against a talented side. If he can put in an impressive performance against a top club’s young prospects, then surely it’s worth giving him a chance against Championship-level players?
The lad is 6 ft 1, athletic, and determined to succeed. Playing him alongside someone like John O’Shea could do wonders for his confidence and his development. To let him stagnate in the youth sides is a crying shame when you consider the desperate situation in which we currently find ourselves - and it really is desperate.
We’re currently second bottom without a win in 9 games across all competitions, what more will it take for Grayson to look to his young charges to reverse our faltering fortunes? Tom Beadling is just one player on the list, and he deserves to be given a chance to impress.