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The SOL Years: This is the top 20 of SAFC players to play less than 25 games for the lads - #10-6

To celebrate 20 years at the Stadium of Light (and to help pass some time because that period between the season ending and starting is boring) Roker Report are looking at the top 20 players to play less than 25 games for the lads during the last 20 years.

Darlington FC v Sunderland - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Number 10: Stern John - 16 apps, 5 goals

Stern John was a solid performer for Sunderland in his few appearances for the club - 5 goals in 16 games is a good record considering that six of those appearances were from the bench.

The Trinidad & Tobago international got himself some crucial goals for the club in his short stay with a double to finish off a 4-0 rout of Southend, the winner against West Brom in a vital 2-1 victory, the game-ending goal in a 2-0 win over Hull and a last minute equaliser against Birmingham City in a 2-2 away draw in our second Premier League game of 2007/08.

Birmingham City v Sunderland - Barclays Premier League
Stern John in his final act for Sunderland. A last minute equaliser against Birmingham City
Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

John’s best moment was undoubtedly the goal against Birmingham, mainly because it was so vital. The goal itself was a bit of a joke, with Roy O’Donovan pinning the Birmingham goalie to the ground while Stern John was able to score into an open net.

Not that I was complaining at the time - it was a huge goal.

Number 9: Stewart Downing - 7 apps, 3 goals

Would it be fair to say that Downing is a bit of a cult hero? That might be a stretch. But in his 7 appearances for the lads in late 2004 he endeared himself to the Sunderland faithful with his terrific wing play, goals and general brilliance.

A left side of Julio Arca and Stewart Downing was something to be feared. He even managed 3 goals for us - God knows how he would have done over a full season.

Coventry City v Sunderland
Downing pounding one in against Coventry City

Downing's crowning moment at Sunderland was probably his parting gift, a masterful strike against Coventry City at Highfield Road. The game - marred by Colin Healy’s awful leg leg break - epitomised what Downing and Arca were about, with the latter feeding the former.

Downing as we know has had a magnificent career since leaving Wearside, leading Boro to a League Cup win and a UEFA Cup final, playing on numerous occasions for England and earning a £20 million move to Liverpool along the way.

Number 8: Alan Hutton - 11 apps, 0 goals

Alan Hutton played eleven games for the lads and shored up our right back position nicely. Making his debut against Wigan at home in a 1-1 draw - he instantly looked an upgrade on an out-of-sorts Phil Bardsley.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sunderland - Premier League
Alan Hutton in his final Sunderland game. He would see red later in the game.
Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Hutton’s most famous Sunderland moment was perhaps getting twatted by a Jozy Altidore headbutt in our 1-0 win over Hull at the end of 2009-10.

Talking about the incident, then-Sunderland manager Steve Bruce said:

It's not going to hurt Altidore, he is built like a horse. He might be angry, but to go and headbutt someone… Alan is lucky not to be in hospital as he has a cut eye, bust nose and chipped tooth. The letter of the law says if you throw a ball at someone it is a red card. It seems strange, but it's the letter of the law.

Hutton was arguably the finest right back to play for Sunderland since Chris Makin - it was immensely frustrating to see him only play a handful of games for the lads.

Number 7: Alfred N’Diaye - 16 appearances, 0 goals

Why oh why could we not find a place for Alfie in our team? He was just getting used to the Premier League when it was decided that he was not good enough.

Well - Paolo Di Canio got rid of him... or Roberto Di Fanti, depending on what you read.

N'Diaye was a strong player for Sunderland in his 16 games and he progressed nicely, nearly scoring a magnificent goal on his debut before following it up with an assist in our 3-2 robbery of Wigan in January 2013. Incidentally that was the final victory of the Martin O’Neill era.

Alfie had all the qualities required to be a good Premier League midfielder - strength, pace and height with a decent passing range and bags of energy. For whatever reason he was never fancied by a number of managers at Sunderland and went on to forge a career elsewhere, most notably rocking up at Hull City in the Premier League last season.

Number 6: Kieren Westwood - 24 apps, 0 goals

Westwood - a former Manchester City and Carlisle United stopper - was signed on a free transfer from Coventry in the summer of 2011 by Steve Bruce. Regarded at the time as a solid signing by most, the Republic of Ireland international struggled to nail down his place in the side throughout the majority of his three-year stay on Wearside, but did a solid enough job nonetheless.

Sunderland v Liverpool - Premier League
Kieren Westwood giving instructions during our home defeat to Liverpool in September 2013.
Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Westwood was remembered mainly for being a good kicker and a decent shot stopper, but his decision making at times was questionable, and he was often prone to an error.

Kieren started the first 10 games of the 2013-14 season - his big chance of making an impact - but unfortunately for him the Di Canio reign was disastrous and eventually new manager Gus Poyet dropped him in favour of Vito Mannone.

He did however feature in our 2-1 win over the mags that season, making some crucial saves on our way to victory as we defeated our nearest rivals for the first time on Wearside since 2008.

Join us tomorrow as we give you our top 5!

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