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Roker Roundtable: James, Oviedo or Hume - who is Sunderland’s best/first choice left back?

Sunderland now have three left backs that are fit and able to play - Reece James, Bryan Oviedo and Denver Hume. Who, in your opinion, should be our first choice for the rest of this season?

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Q. Bryan Oviedo and Denver Hume are now both back in training and available for selection. Reece James has been Jack Ross’ first choice left back for most of this season, but with healthy competition in that position it poses the question - should Jack Ross look to get a more attack-minded player into the side, or should he stick with the less technically-gifted but relatively dependable James?

Gav says...

I can point to weaknesses in the games of all three men, so to be brutal you have to weigh it up and ponder which is the lesser of three evils.

Hume is inexperienced and injury-prone, but is proficient at both ends of the field and is deceptively quick. Reece James is poor going forward but solid enough in the tackle. Bryan Oviedo is prone to defensive lapses but is one of the finest attacking players in our squad.

For me, if he’s fit we have to stick with Bryan Oviedo as our first choice left back.

The Costa Rican is undoubtedly quality, and I think that we could really use him on the left as we look to create even more chances for Will Grigg, who hasn’t really been able to back up his good performances with the goals to match.

Adding someone like Oviedo down our left hand side, when we’re trying to overwhelm teams from an attacking perspective, would really give us something different in the final third.

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Craig Davies says...

Reece James has done all he can and should be commended. He’s young and talented, committed and defensively industrious. Limited? Unquestionably. He was parachuted into the team due to unforeseen circumstances and was not the first choice left back when this season began. Is he brilliant? No. Has he set the world on fire? No. Would I play him ahead of the others? No way.

But I believe he tried his very best and gives everything when selected. No one should be hammering the lad. He will define improve and be better for this experience.

Simple truth is, he’s not good enough - yet - to keep the other two left backs out of the team. Besides, I keep saying this, but defence is not our strong point by any stretch of the imagination, as many of us have witnessed in recent months where anxiety and shakiness have replaced words such as organisation and dependability. So the fact James has been a part of that fragility only highlights to me that a return to a more familiar man, may be necessary.

Personally I’d play Bryan Oviedo. He’s an international, he’s experienced, played at a higher level and goodness knows what we’re still paying him to be here, but it’s a relative king’s ransom and consequently must earn his corn. He’s still here, still paid a fortune, so we should use him while we can.

More importantly, his attacking style can help us.

Oviedo’s swashbuckling can add a little urgency to our attacks as he looks to push forward and overlap the wide man. His deliveries are historically decent and his ball play is good. Again, he’s not Roberto Carlos and I wouldn’t pretend he is. But from our 3 available left backs, in my own opinion, he’s the best option. I do admire Hume, but at the moment prefer him as the understudy, rather than the principle player.

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James Smith says...

Dependable is probably an apt term for Reece James… you can always depend on him to float in crosses that are easily headed away and make simple passes back inside instead of trying to go down the line.

I’m not a Reece James hater because, as you put, he is dependable - a 7/10 embodied within sentient meat. But the way football is now - fullbacks are more about being dependable. They need to provide width to the team and offer up a new dynamic and give something else for the opposition to think about. On the other side we have O’Nien, a makeshift fullback, causing problems with his positive play. James doesn’t really do any of that for me, and I’ve never been impressed from what I’ve seen of him this season.

Ross is showing faith and providing consistency in team selection, which I admire, but where we are in the league, and at the business end of the season, we need every advantage we have to make that final push.

Oviedo is a far superior player. Hume, from the little I’ve seen, looks like a great player and a definite starter for next season. The dilemma for Ross should now be over which one of those two to start - James shouldn’t even come into it.

Based on the fact that Hume has been out for a long time and needs some time to catch up I would play Oviedo for the immediate future. He’s almost certainly gone in the summer so we might as well use him whilst we have him.

By the end of the season I’d like to see Hume established again.

Cue, “He’s one of our own….”

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