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Getting a brief tune out of Kone is music to Sunderland ears & four more lessons from Derby visit

We’ve had a weekend to debate and reflect on Sunderland’s opener now - here’s five key observations from that goal-apiece draw with Derby.

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

Signing a target man should be our priority

Now that we’ve seen our first proper game since Simon Grayson became manager, it’s becoming a lot easier to work out where his priorities should lie when it comes to further recruitment.

Aiden McGeady really turned on the magic in front of the expectant home fans and his deliveries from set pieces and out wide were absolutely superb - we’d be foolish not to try and further utilise that with someone to aim them at.

Sunderland v Derby County - Sky Bet Championship
Simon Grayson on the touchline
Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

We have quite a small side and some height up front could well be a key ingredient to mount a serious promotion push. Strong deliveries into the box can only get you so far - ultimately, you need someone on the other end of the ball putting the chances away.

James Vaughan and Lewis Grabban offer us some genuinely fantastic options up top but having a big, powerful forward battling with defenders is an outlet Sunderland are lacking. Jordan Hugill, anyone?

Lack of squad options is somewhat concerning

I suppose this brings me firmly on to my next point - we might have the basis of a strong side at this level, but our lack of squad options is a worry and, by the time we play Norwich, it would be nice if we had one or two other new faces through the door.

Simon Grayson neglected to use any of his substitutes during Friday’s game and that decision was telling - clearly, Grayson didn’t feel he could look upon the players on his bench to offer us something extra as we pushed for a second goal.

We’ll soon have Duncan Watmore, Bryan Oviedo and Paddy McNair back in the squad, and they’ll provide us with a welcome boost, but some pace out wide and another top-quality central defender would be nice additions if we can stretch to signing them.

Honeyman - proof we need to give our young players opportunities to shine

George Honeyman is by no means what I’d call ‘top quality’ but he’s a very tidy footballer that plays with his head up and gives his all. He’ll only improve after playing and training every day with better, more experienced players, and the fact he saw out the full ninety minutes of the game on Friday was pleasing.

Honeyman came close to scoring, never hid and worked his socks off. He certainly never looked out of place.

Sunderland v Derby County - Sky Bet Championship
Honeyman performed the role he was handed admirably against Derby
Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

He, along with Josh Maja, is proof that we do indeed have talent coming through from our youth ranks and when the chances are there for them to take part in games, we have to give them the opportunities to shine.

Kone is good - when he can be arsed

Give him credit where it’s due - Lamine Kone was very good on Friday and certainly looked to have put his horror show against Celtic behind him.

Whilst the general assumption is that he’ll end up moving on to a Premier League club come the end of the transfer window, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he’ll stay a little while longer and Simon Grayson certainly seems intent on using him for as long as he has the ability to do so.

Sunderland v Derby County - Sky Bet Championship
Lamine Kone had a good game against Derby
Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Kone’s bizarre tweet on Saturday night in reply to something that Wes Brown had said about him set alarm bells ringing amongst those of us that noted it, and it’ll be interesting to find out what eventually happens to him in the coming weeks. But, for the time being, he’s our player and we have to give him some credit for putting in the the graft when the pressure was on him to perform.

We should give Steele time to bed in

Jason Steele’s debut against Celtic, by his own admittance, ‘couldn’t have gone worse’ - and a shaky opening twenty minutes or so against Derby certainly did very little to allay those fears. That said, he recovered well beyond that point and grew in confidence as the game went on.

He’s a new player and needs to be given some time at least to prove his doubters wrong. Simon Grayson isn’t going to lose faith in him quickly and nor should we.

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