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The Roker Round-table: Which Sunderland players have surprised our writers the most this season?

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Every week the Roker Round-table will give each reporter the chance to express their views on a topic. This week’s question asks: “Which Sunderland player has surprised you the most this season - whether negatively or positively?”

Livingston v Sunderland - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Gav says... Lewis Grabban!

I’m going to say that the player that has surprised me the most so far this season is Lewis Grabban.

I genuinely didn’t think that he’d score as many goals as he has so far - and the daft thing is, I wouldn’t even say that he’s played particularly well in doing so. He’s got this uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time, sorta in the way that Darren Bent used to be. That isn’t a bad thing, by the way - it’s actually the mark of a good forward, that his movement off the ball when we get into attacking areas is what he primarily focuses on as opposed to launching himself all over the place trying to win back possession.

I saw his record from recent years, in particular during his spell at Reading last season, and in all honesty I didn’t really get my hopes up with him. In fairness, he’s delivered, even when others haven’t.

Whether he can keep it up is anyone’s guess. I’d suggest that if he does, this time next month he might not even be our player due to the loan clause that allows Bournemouth to recall him. Yes, it’s sad, but we don’t hold the cards with this one.

Bury v Sunderland - Carabao Cup First Round Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Connor says... Callum McManaman!

When Sunderland signed Callum McManaman in the summer I must admit that I was incredibly happy with it as a piece of business. I rated McManaman back in his Wigan days, and he was already hated by the Mags - anyone that pisses them off is a friend of mine.

That said, since he arrived on Wearside in the summer he has been incredibly poor and has struggled to hold down a place in the side.

McManaman has looked out of his depth in a team that has been in the relegation zone since October. He has not even scored a goal yet for the boys and, by my count, has just one assist.

When the former Wigan man got himself stupidly sent off on Saturday for handling the ball into the net - costing the team any real chance of winning the game - I was beside myself with rage. The optimism and happiness that I felt after we snagged him on a free transfer has now completely dissipated, and I for one could not give a toss if McManaman ever wears a Sunderland shirt again.

Sunderland v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Copley says... Lee Cattermole!

The player that has surprised me most this season? It has to be Lee Cattermole, on account of his glaring decline. Our 'Smoggie Prince' is more of a pauper these days; his passing has been woeful, he doesn't press our opposition in the same manner that he used to and he never scores - games just seem to pass him by.

Cattermole's legs have evidently gone, and unfortunately we’re carrying him in a side that can not afford to have any passengers.

Thanks for the memories, Lee - but it's time to go!

Sunderland v Derby County - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Alex says... Bryan Oviedo!

As far as surprises go, Bryan Oviedo has been a pleasant one.

I’ve never been one to get hyped over a full-back, so as a result I never really stopped to consider the significance his quality could have in this forthcoming season - but his performances drew my attention very quickly.

Oviedo’s turned defense into attack on a plentiful number of occasions throughout this campaign’s fixtures, with a good balance of graft and flair, and unlike many of our self-serving, self-entitled Premier League era players he’s just got his head down and performed without a single utterance of dissent.

I wish we had a whole team of lads like him!

Aston Villa v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Tom says... Jack Rodwell!

Call me a moron, but I honestly thought that Jack Rodwell might have come good this season.

I know, I know, a foolish fantasy, but through my mind rushed this wonderful Rocky-esque montage of Rodwell jogging down Pallion Road shadow boxing his way through the takeaway valley, baying for blood screaming for GRAAAYYYSSSSONNN!

Surely a drop in division would rekindle the former Everton man’s desire for the game? Surely this was to be his level? A chance at redemption beckoned; I was waiting for the birth of the Pallion Stallion, yet somehow Rodwell continues to be the least inspiring Sunderland signing in modern history.

I thought this was the season that he’d eat lightning and crap thunder, but unfortunately Rodwell just lingers like a bad smell, and right now I’m of the opinion that if he leaves, he leaves. I’m not even arsed about a fee. The words of Apollo Creed ring true for poor old Jack: “Stay in school and use your brain. Be a doctor, be a lawyer, carry a leather briefcase. Forget about sports as a profession. Sports make ya grunt and smell. See, be a thinker, not a stinker.

Livingston v Sunderland - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Graham says... Lee Cattermole!

I’m plumping for Lee Barry Cattermole, mainly because he’s gone from being a player that I whole-hardheartedly trusted to a player that I genuinely despise.

He’s been far and wide our worst player this season, and I genuinely think that he would even struggle playing in the division below.

As Copley has already attested to, his legs have gone. His attitude is 100% wrong and he looks like he’d rather be anywhere than the Stadium of Light these days.

West Bromwich Albion v Sunderland - Premier League
Where has this version of Lee Cattermole gone? He used to be so passionate.
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

James Nickels says... Adam Matthews!

Adam Matthews - he hasn’t been spectacular, but he hasn’t shirked responsibility nor omitted any glaringly horrendous errors like half of the rest of our playing squad have.

He has just quietly, admirably and somewhat impressively got on with his game, kept his head down and focused upon matters on the pitch.

Considering he has been out of the cold for nigh-on three years now and has never really been considered in red and white, it is a remarkable surprise. I think many expected him to leave in the summer, purely due to his lack of game time, but not only has he stayed, he has battled off an army of - admittedly poor - right backs to finally nail down a starting berth in our side.