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Jack Ross has moved quickly to sort out Sunderland’s defence; what will our new left-back bring?

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Reece James is a graduate of the Manchester United academy system and has already achieved two promotions from League One in his short career, but his injury record appears to be poor. Is this a good piece of business from Jack Ross?

Sunderland AFC

So... who is he?

Having completed the deal which brought Scottish midfielder Dylan McGeough to the club on Monday afternoon, Sunderland quickly followed that up with the signing of former Manchester United left-back Reece James.

Initially impressing as a youngster at Old Trafford, James was loaned to a series of clubs to gain first team experience. A move to Carlisle in 2013 was cut short due to injury, but the youngster continued to develop in the Manchester United U23s. New loan opportunities presented themselves at Rotherham and Huddersfield, before James opted to make a permanent move to North-West neighbours Wigan Athletic in 2015.

In his first season at the club James helped Wigan secure promotion to the Championship, and was part of the side that repeated the achievement this May. Towards the end of the season, manager Paul Cook opted to play Australian full-back Callum Elder, perhaps knowing James was to leave the club this summer.


What do people who have watched him before think?

We sat down for a chat with Paul Kendrick, Latics reporter for the Wigan Observer and Wigan Post, to get the low-down on our new signing - and he thinks it could end up being a decent bit of business for Sunderland.

RR: Reece James has signed a one-year deal at Sunderland. What do you make of that?

PK: It’s a great move for him. He’s a really good lad - I wish him well.

Gary Caldwell reckoned he was Wigan Athletic’s most consistent player in the title-winning campaign three years ago until he got injured in January. He missed around 20 months after that.

RR: Would you say his injury record could be an issue, and is maybe the reason behind why he was only given a one-year deal?

PK: Yep, more than likely - although he was fit last season and only dropped out of the reckoning towards the end, probably with both parties realising he’d be leaving soon.

Manchester United v Los Angeles Galaxy Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

RR: Was Elder seen as a better option, tactically?

PK: To be honest, they’re pretty similar ability wise.

RR: Where would you say Reece’s strengths are?

PK: He likes to get forward and he’s fast. He may not be the biggest, but he’s a decent signing - he should do well!

RR: We’re obviously likely to lose Bryan Oviedo, who gets forward too. I wonder if Jack Ross is looking at wing-backs - would that suit Reece, or is he a defender first and foremost?

PK: Yes, he can play as a wing back, but he’s a natural left back and a strong defender.

RR: Attitude and an age to develop seem important attributes. Coming from Manchester United and now Wigan I guess he has the right approach?

PK: Very much so. He’s a good age and he’ll fit in well. He has vast League One experience, winning two promotions during his time here.

Northampton Town v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet League One Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

Roker Report’s Verdict: He’s a good replacement for Oviedo!

Having played a key part in Wiagn’s promotion last season and in the side that achieved the same feat two years prior, the experience that Reece James brings will be vital if we are to follow in their footsteps and win the league at the first time of asking.

Having been fit since the turn of the year, the hope is James can continue in that vein and make a lasting impression this season. A one-year deal may suit the club for now but, at 24 years of age, he has a lot of football ahead of him - and that’s why, to me, it’s a sensible piece of business.

Jack Ross has put his faith in the former Manchester United prospect, rather than progressing a deal for United’s current emerging full-back Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, and it is hoped that this proves to be an astute decision.

Welcome to the club, Reece!