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PLAYER PREVIEWS: Running through our expectations for Sunderland’s midfielders and forwards

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With Sunderland’s squad for the season now in place, we take a look at each player and what we expect each of them to achieve over the coming weeks and months.

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

4. Lee Cattermole

Simply put, Lee Cattermole’s form needs to improve dramatically this season.

After injury struggles over the last couple of years, fans hoped the tenacious midfielder would boss the opposition in the Championship after a summer without hindrance; unfortunately, that wasn’t the case whatsoever.

Rumors have swirled suggesting Cattermole is keen to depart the banks of the river Wear, but whether that will materialize is still subject to scrutiny. In turn, if Lee is to stay put, we need to see the Catts of old: tenacious, energetic, and a force to be reckoned with in the middle of the park.

Birmingham City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

8. Dylan McGeouch

From what I’ve heard of McGeouch both before his move to the club, and thanks to the club’s audio-commentary service throughout pre-season, McGeouch sounds like the real deal.

Sunderland have lacked someone capable of keeping things ticking over in the middle of the park, a deep lying midfielder capable of finding more attack-minded teammates, a player who can simply pick a pass. McGeouch sounds like just that sort of midfielder.

As such, I have huge hopes that the former Hibee, and if success is to be found this season, he could well be a major component of it.


10. George Honeyman

I’m a fan of George Honeyman, and as fellow editor Gav noted on the Roker Rapport Podcast the other day: if we signed a Championship midfielder who bagged 7 goals and a couple of assists for next to nothing, fans would be over the moon.

Subsequently, I think Honeyman will thrive in a team that has some quality additions to it. Both Dylan McGeouch and Luke O’Nien look really promising - hopefully they allow George to express himself a little more.

I really think Honeyman cared about the side’s deterioration last year, moving forward I hope he uses that as a fuel to ignite this season’s performances.

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

13. Luke O’Nien

Again, another young lad with a mountain of talent. I honestly cannot wait to see Luke O’Nien pull on a red and white shirt!

The comparisons have already been made between the former Wycombe man and club legend Kevin Ball - and if that lives up to its billing fans will be in for an absolute treat.

A man of many talents, O’Nien seems to be creative, clinical, tireless, and determined to improve. We’ve needed a fan favourite in what feels like forever, and I really hope O’Nien can fill that void.


21. Ethan Robson

Another young lad with a big season ahead of him. Robson was one of the first players at the end of last season to declare his intent to stay with the club, and after a canny pre-season, fans will be hopeful that Robson can push on and find a place in Jack Ross’ plans.

A tidy midfielder, Robson will likely be used throughout the season as cover for McGeouch and O’Nien. I’m a fan of Robson, and last season he showed flashes of his ability in a struggling side - fingers crossed he develops into a good player this campaign with additional game time.

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
Breakthrough season for young Ethan?
Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images

29. Elliot Embleton, 34. Jake Hackett, & 37. Bali Mumba

All three of the academy products listed find themselves on the fringes of the first-team ahead of this season, and all three will be determined to prove they deserve the chance to stay there.

I don’t know much about Jake Hackett if truth be told, but he is supposed to have a good left foot and a knack for supporting the attack.

Bali Mumba looks the real deal, and at the tender age of sixteen he has plenty of time to develop into the quality player he appears to be. I think he will get the odd appearance here and there, though the club will likely limit his exposure in order to enhance his development. High hopes for this lad’s future, but this season might just be one too soon.

Elliot Embleton really shone in recent games for the Young Lions, and I am hopeful he will be able to fight for a place in the first-team squad. He looks very proficient in terms of his technical ability, and this season there’s a chance for him to show his true quality. He will likely get game time in in cup competitions and from the bench - he needs to ensure he grasps that opportunity with both hands.

Livingston v Sunderland - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

7. Chris Maguire

Maguire looks a good signing at this level, in my opinion. He’s definitely not an out-and-out striker, but he looks like a real creative spark in the final third of the pitch.

He reminds me of Aiden McGeady somewhat with his style of play, he’s tricky and brings other players into the game with his vision and flair. Whether he will find a place in the starting XI remains to be seen, but he definitely gives us a great option up top.


9. Charlie Wyke

Literally, the exact type of striker we’ve been asking for in what feels like an eternity. Brutish, keen, and a sharp eye for goal, Wyke isn’t exactly Niall Quinn reincarnate, but he will definitely prove to be a real handful for League One defences.

Handed the number nine shirt, I expect to see Wyke feature a lot this season, for his presence gives us a host of options up top. The fact a couple of Championship clubs came in sniffing the day we signed him is a good omen - another player who can grow with us on this journey. I’m a big fan of this signing.


11. Lynden Gooch

He’s looked absolutely class this pre-season, and this could be a major season for the young Yank. Quick, tricky, and a good eye for goal, Gooch looks to be the exact kind of player needed to be a success at this level.

I see Gooch as the kind of player who needs a substantial run of games in order to deliver his undoubted potential, and his performances this summer must certainly stand him in good stead ahead of this season.

He gives his all every time he’s on the pitch and his aggression speak volumes about his desire to win. I think this could be a massive year for Lynden.

Aston Villa v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship
Give his all.
Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

14. Duncan Watmore

We’re all hoping Duncan makes a swift recovery from a recurrence of a nasty knee injury, but he will definitely be gently returned to first-team action.

That being said, his return will be like a new signing, and if his knee has fully healed I think he will be a cut above the majority of players in this league.

Norwich City v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images

17. Jerome Sinclair

An exciting loan signing, Sinclair’s pace and trickery in the final third will be crucial to any success this season. Hopefully he can find some form and provide the goals needed to realise our ambitions.

My only worry is that Sinclair hasn’t played much football in the last couple of seasons. If he can he hit the ground running, I think he could be a real star in this division.


19. Aiden McGeady

Will he stay on Wearside is the first question that remains to be seen. If he does, McGeady will undoubtedly be the most gifted player in the division, and he will terrify defences.

Has Jack Ross managed to convert the former Preston man, and convince him that Wearside is the place to be? Hopefully. He scores goals, makes goals, and his creativity is simply a joy to watch. I’d love to see him hang around and help us win games.

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

20. Josh Maja

A great chance for young Josh as the current third-choice striker to show the club how good he can be as a forward who can find the net.

I think Maja’s knee injury last summer hindered his development, but he’s looked quite sharp again this summer and I think with the new additions to the side, he could well be an important player for the club.

Hopefully he can kick on and show his worth.


35. Luke Molyneux

I don’t think Molyneux will be an automatic starter for Jack Ross’ side, but as the season progresses, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him included more frequently in the starting line-up.

Molyneux has pace, trickery, flair, and an eye for goal. If he grasps any opportunities he’s afforded this season, he could well be a difficult player to dislodge from the side. Molyneux is highly rated, and reminds me of Allan Johnston from what I’ve seen.

Keep and eye on this lad, I think he could be a brilliant player.


36. Andrew Nelson

I think Nelson will struggle for games this season with the first-team. He had a canny spell up in Scotland’s Championship last year, and another move would do wonders for his development.

As a club we have been rubbish at times in encouraging talent to develop, Nelson could be a decent striker in the next few years, hopefully we help him grow into one.

Sunderland v Everton: Premier League 2
Where next for Nelson’s development?
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images