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QUICK KICKS: Reece James will ensure Sunderland aren’t completely dependent on Bryan Oviedo!

We’re still soaring through League One on Jack Ross’ magic carpet in today’s installment of Quick Kicks - and that’s due in no small part to the tenacity of Jack Baldwin, the reassurance from Reece James and vast improvement of Lee Cattermole!

Gillingham v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Jack Baldwin is absolutely mint

If you start from the Premier League and systematically drop down the divisions, you’ll tend to notice that quality is compromised and substituted with sheer physicality. By the time you reach League One, you’ve got yourself a level of football where out-muscling and kicking lumps out of the opposition is generally preferred to using individual flair and brilliance to weave through them.

But when you’ve got both attributes - like our very own Jack Baldwin - why the hell does any of that matter?

Yesterday evening, once again, Baldwin produced an immensely formidable defensive performance in which he was domineering in the air and composedly creative with the ball subsequently at his feet.

Despite what the scoreline might suggest, Gillingham were a consistent threat going forward and had us under some serious pressure for generous portions of the match; it’s due largely to Baldwin that nuisances like that Tom Eaves were kept at bay. I doubt we would’ve won as comfortably if Jack wasn’t on the pitch.

Gillingham v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Reece James will ensure we aren’t completely dependent on Bryan Oviedo

After watching Oviedo’s brilliant performance against Scunthorpe on Sunday, my concerns regarding the preservation of our positionally dexterous Costa Rican were two-fold.

Not only is it entirely plausible that he could leave before the conclusion of the departure-window, he could also very easily be mauled by some sh*thouse jobber and consequently injured for a lengthy period of time.

In the event of either of these transpiring, my fear was that we’d be left with a gaping chasm of quality where the former Everton man once stood - but after watching Reece James last night, my worries are all but banished.

James made some tenacious sliding tackles and had the uncanny ability to suddenly be bounding forward and ready to scoop in a dangerous delivery - look no further than the build up to our fourth goal if you’re wanting evidence for that.

If he keeps playing like that, we’ve either got a replacement for Oviedo or his competition. It’s reassuring either way.

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images

Get rid of Lee Cattermole? Why on earth would we do that?

Sorry, I’m just not sure what you mean by ‘rotten core’.

Many fans were calling for his head after Luton away, but fast forward three more games and the former vice-captain has yielded three very assured performances. His mobility is obviously on the decline but nowadays he seems to playing a role that focuses almost entirely on his ability to pick out incisive, intelligent passes from the depths of the midfield - no doubt that’s another shrewd tactical decision from Jack Ross.

Of course, a deep-lying, string-pulling midfielder needs to be juxtaposed by more energetic, marauding counterparts - and with the likes of George Honeyman, Max Power and Luke O’Nien kicking about, it’s looking like Lee will always benefit from our setup in the middle of the park.

West Bromwich Albion v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images