What a tough week to judge Sunderland’s players individually.
An outstanding team performance away from home saw the team advance to Wembley in style, but just days later the team were soft, lethargic and fell short in every aspect of their play in a majorly disappointing draw against the Wycombe Wanderers.
Grant Leadbitter sneaks into the top spot in a week where Aiden McGeady was extremely quiet and a default pick in a bad week, Jon Mclaughlin, wasn’t quite at his best.
Our homegrown midfielder was vital in playing through the Bristol Rovers press in the Checkatrade Trophy victory and although he was poor on Saturday, few Sunderland players could claim they were better than Leadbitter at Adams Park.
McLaughlin reclaims a top two spot after typically reliable performances in both games.
Reece James is this week’s major faller - he didn’t play in the cup victory and was hooked at half-time away at Wycombe.
1: Grant Leadbitter (2) - A champion for the first time, Leadbitter has been knocking on the door of the top spot ever since his return to Wearside.
2: Jon McLaughlin (4) - Back up to second after making important saves in both fixtures to ensure Sunderland reached the Checkatrade Trophy final and took a point off Wanderers despite struggling throughout.
3: Aiden McGeady (1) - His two-week run at the top ends with a whimper after he really didn’t perform in either game this week - if anything, Sunderland’s ineptness elsewhere is the main reason he remains in the top three.
4: Luke O’Nien (3) - Like McGeady, O’Nien is fortunate to find himself still within the top five. He was the worst performer in the EFL Trophy win and looked lost defensively against his former team on Saturday.
5: Will Grigg (8) - Broke the deadlock with his game-changing opener against Rovers, was quieter against the Chairboys but that’s true of all Sunderland attackers. The 27-year-old moves up to five after his first open-play goal for the Black Cats.
6: Duncan Watmore (12) - Vaults back into the top ten after his decisive stoppage time equaliser against Wycombe. The former England International still hasn’t found his best form after two career-changing injuries, but occasionally - like on Saturday - Watmore provides timely reminders of why he was once such a sought-after talent.
7: Max Power (16) - A strong contender for man of the match in the Checkatrade Trophy semi-final, and that performance alone has Power back in the top ten.
8: Lewis Morgan (7) - Drops one spot after an inconsistent week. Morgan was a top five, maybe even top three contender after his wonderful showing at Bristol, but he undid much of his good work at Wycombe where he was culpable for their goal.
9: Lee Cattermole (5) - Falls out of the top five after looking his age at Wycombe and missing out with a minor injury against Bristol.
10: George Honeyman (6) - For all the attention he received for his brilliant off the pitch interview against Rovers and fronting up to the Wycombe bench, our captain’s on-the-field performances were completely forgettable and barely worthy of a top ten spot.
11: Tom Flanagan (SR) - Another man of the match contender on Tuesday that let himself down badly in League One action. Flanagan stays at 11 due to being slightly less awful than Jimmy Dunne at Wycombe.
12: Jimmy Dunne (10) - Amazingly Dunne had a really effective game in the EFL Trophy, but unfortunately he was an embarrassment at Wycombe. If Sunderland fail to get promoted Dunne’s signing will be a key turning point in the lads’ season.
13: Lynden Gooch (SR) - A bright cameo off the bench in the Checkatrade Trophy was followed by a more forgettable showing in the league which keeps Gooch outside the top ten.
14: Adam Matthews (18) - Played well out of position twice, especially against the Gas, and despite O’Nien’s impressive performances in recent months Matthews might be Sunderland’s best bet at right-back for the rest of the season.
15: Reece James (9) - A tough week for the left-back has seen his standing drop further in Jack Ross’ eyes. Matthews flourished when James was left out at Bristol and the 25-year-old was replaced by the Welshman again at half-time on Saturday.
16: Chris Maguire (14) - Drops a couple slots as some of his teammates made impressive first-team returns in the EFL Trophy semi-final.
17: Jack Baldwin (15) - Remains out-of-favour, Flanagan’s injury may offer the former Peterborough skipper a chance at redemption in the near future.
18: Charlie Wyke (17) - Didn’t get on the pitch in the Checkatrade Trophy and missed the trip to Wycombe through illness.
19: Dylan McGeouch (SR) - Enjoyed a brief appearance from the bench against Rovers when the game was already won, but is still way down the pecking order in Sunderland’s midfield.
20: Bryan Oviedo (SR) - Still not fit enough to make the Sunderland bench. He faces competition not just from James, but Matthews and the fit-again Denver Hume for minutes in the final months of the season.
21: Kazaiah Sterling 22: Benji Kimpioka 23: Robbin Ruiter 24: Alim Ozturk 25: Bali Mumba 26: Glenn Loovens 27: Denver Hume 28: Jack Bainbridge 29: Donald Love 30: Jake Hackett 31: Lee Connelly 32: Jack Diamond 33: Brandon Taylor 34: Jordan Hunter 35: Daniel Neil 36: Max Stryjek