According to a story that appeared in the Sun over the weekend, Sunderland are one of three clubs that have registered an interest in 24-year old Wigan defender Donervon Daniels.
The former West Bromwich Albion man is out of contract in the summer, and according to the report his availability has alerted a number of clubs who are keen on securing his signature.
Daniels spent the early part of the season out on loan at Rochdale in a bid to prove his fitness, playing fifteen games before he was recalled early back by Wigan in order to help aid their promotion bid back to the Championship.
The Montserrat international impressed during his six-month stint with the Dale, so much so that Wigan manager Paul Cook felt it was necessary to bring him back to the DW Stadium. Daniels missed virtually all of last season through injury, playing just thirteen minutes of action over the entirety of the Latics’ Championship campaign, but was almost an ever-present the season before last when they finished 1st in League One.
But, what is he like?
We collared a couple of bods that know him fairly well, Chris and Allan from Wigan Athletic podcast ‘The Pie at Night, in order to get the lowdown on what Daniels is all about, what his current status is at Wigan, and the most important bit - is he any good?
RR: So, Donervon Daniels - what’s he like, then?
Chris: He was decent enough at League One level in 2015/16 when we won the league and played pretty much every game that season. He’s not really an out and out right back, and not really an out and out centre half - I’d say his best performances came on the right hand side of a back three, in Caldwell’s version of Roberto Martinez’s 3-5-2. He didn’t feature much in our Championship season due to being injured for a large part of it, so can’t really pass judgement on him at that level.
Allan: He’s got all the attributes to make a good defender, but hardly any of the brain power. He got played at right back as he couldn’t play centre half in a back four and did alright because he could get up and down the pitch, but was prone to getting caught out as well. Like Chris said, he fits in better in a back three, probably because there are others around to cover for him. All that said, we’ve no idea how he might have developed over the last year or so.
RR: Interesting, seeing as long term Coleman has his sights on regularly playing a 5-3-2. The other clubs linked are Norwich and Cardiff, so it’s fair to assume that he’s seen as fairly highly rated. Are his injury problems behind him? I read that his loan at Rochdale was cut short because he was doing so well and playing regularly.
Chris: He is only 24 so is still young enough to be considered a decent investment. He seems to do better with a run of games under his belt, but then most players need that to build up a bit of fitness and form. His injury was to his knee and required an operation, so is it behind him? Possibly.
Regarding the recall from the loan at Rochdale - I can’t see him getting into our first team unless there are injuries to other players. Paul Cook seems to pick a pretty settled starting eleven, and Donervon Daniels would be hard pressed to push anyone out of that defence which until Saturday was/still is the best in the Football League. His recall is probably more to provide cover for potential injuries/suspensions, with the Cup run and now title run in getting serious.
RR: Most people reading this will probably say ‘...who?’ - what would you say to anyone that is unsure of who he is or his abilities?
Chris: He’s raw but with the potential to do well with the right players around him. He needs experience alongside him giving him instruction, and a pacey wing back who can help him out, but like I said, he played a lot in League One in a team that won the league. That’s got to count for something, right?
Allan: Remember Titus Bramble? No, not that bit... or that bit... no, not that bit either. Yeah, the being an alright defender bit! Well, he could turn out like that given the right direction and opportunities.
Quite how much truth is in this particular rumour is tough to gauge, particularly as the Summer transfer window is so far away. With our league status as yet unknown it wouldn’t really make sense to be targeting players for next season just yet, but that’s not to say that we haven’t looked into the possibility of signing Daniels upon the expiration of his Wigan contract.
He’s a good age and has shown that he’s fit again after his injury problems last year, so who knows? It would be fair to assume that long-term Chris Coleman would like his team to play with a five man defence, and as the lads said above his best position is on the right of a back three, so it’d certainly make sense. Let’s not forget that he’d be free, on presumably low wages and is still a fairly young man.
Let’s wait and see.