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Talking Points: Heerenveen display and Oviedo departing shows we need to sign another left back

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Should we be concerned by our lack of pre-season goals? Have Sunderland’s new signings impressed you? And, after losing Reece James and now Bryan Oviedo, is signing a new left back a priority?

Sunderland v Heerenveen Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Still no goals...

For the third pre-season game in a row the Lads failed to find the back of the net - and that has to be a worry heading into Saturday’s opener against Oxford United.

Aside from a slick passing move that ended in Will Grigg hitting the side netting, only Grant Leadbitter really came close to beating Warner Hahn in open play, with that particular chance coming from a mistake in the Heerenveen defence.

In total, the Lads mustered four shots on target but their continuous struggle to penetrate defences this pre-season is the biggest worry. Saturday’s game was another that passed by with minimal quality in the final third.

Mark McNulty’s impressive cameo will surely give Ross food for thought, though, as Will Grigg looks absolutely bereft of confidence.

Sunderland v Heerenveen Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

New signings - so far so good

Summer signing Conor McLaughlin took my man of the match on Saturday and, alongside Jordan Willis, it seems that Sunderland’s defensive reinforcements look like just what the doctor ordered.

McLaughlin is steady, strong and seems to always makes the right decision, whereas Willis is everything we missed in central defence last year. Aggressive, quick and built like a tank.

George Dobson played only fourteen minutes but was part of our best move of the game, whereas Mark McNulty looked tireless and, with more luck, could have created an opportunity for himself or his team-mates.

It’s hard to read too much into what happens in pre-season, and there’s a full season ahead of us to judge them yet, but it’s nice to see the new signings looking sharp from the outset.

Sunderland v Heerenveen Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Cover is needed at left-back

With Reece James moving to Doncaster Rovers in June and Bryan Oviedo joining up with FC Copenhagen today, that leaves Denver Hume as Sunderland’s only recognised left-back.

Still only 20-years of age and barely in double figures for first-team appearances, it’s a huge risk for Jack Ross to go into a season of paramount importance with the youngster as his only recognised left-back. It’s also a lot of pressure on some very inexperienced shoulders.

Hume hasn’t been overly impressive in the summer and some fans feel the naivety you’d expect from someone so inexperienced is showing. Jack Ross needs to bring in another left-back to, at the very least, challenge Hume.

Sunderland Pre-Season Training Session Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images