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Talking Points: Sunderland’s fringe players reminded us they’re here to fight for their place

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When you get a chance to prove your worth it’s up to you to take it. For many of Sunderland’s supporting cast they did just that last night, and gave Jack Ross something to think about when working out what team he should play on Saturday.

Burnley v Sunderland - Carabao Cup Second Round Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Will Grigg...

Personally, I’ve always been behind Will Grigg as I believe there is a very good reason why he has scored so many goals at this level. If our fans get behind him the same way we got behind Charlie Wyke towards the end of last season then I have no doubt that Will Grigg will reward us by scoring goal after goal.

Last night’s performance for me was that of a confident striker, leading the line well and finishing superbly when the chance arose for him to do so.

With the right amount of support and confidence I’m positive that Grigg can score us the goals to fire us towards promotion. As obvious as it sounds, if we can crack on this season with both him and Charlie Wyke in fine form then we will be a force to be reckoned with in League One.

Sunderland v Heerenveen Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Iam Burn/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The options in midfield...

Although the first few games of the season raised eyebrows amongst unconvinced Sunderland supporters, I thought that the main positive to take from those opening two matches was the partnership of George Dobson and Dylan McGeouch in the centre of midfield.

I’m a big fan of the way McGeouch tries in almost every situation to get hold of the ball, rescue possession and play on the floor - he did this throughout the game last night and in particular the second half when we were under a bit of pressure, allowing us to retain the ball and calm the game down. That, coupled with Dobson’s energy and determination, gave Sunderland a solid partnership in the middle of the pitch.

When I saw the team sheet for the Portsmouth game and realised we had selected Max Power and Grant Leadbitter in the middle I was slightly worried - however, they both have had great games since coming in, and we’ve won all three of the league matches when they’ve started together.

This means we now have four central midfielders who have impressed already this season. Squad depth was a slight problem towards the end of last year with the fixture pile up, however it looks to have improved this time around.

Could this be the difference between automatic promotion and the play offs?

Ipswich Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Flanagan and Baldwin...

With the partnership between Jordan Willis and Alim Ozturk developing well in the past few weeks, everyone seems to have forgotten about Tom Flanagan, and in particular Jack Baldwin. It was strange at the start of the match to see Flanagan wearing the captain’s armband, however he was solid throughout and did the fact he was our leader on the pitch justice.

One of the main criticisms of Jack Baldwin has always been the fact he always seemed to have a mistake in him, especially with the ball at his feet, however last night it was clear he wanted to be no nonsense throughout and it worked very well.

The fact the pair have taken a lot of stick and then managed to keep a Premier League attack largely at bay last night deserves a lot of praise. Similarly to the options in central midfield, after Flanagan and Baldwin’s performance last night it has perhaps reminded us that they are able to put in a shift when called upon, adding to our squad depth further.

Healthy competition for places in the squad should be encouraged - Jack Ross will thrive upon having selections ‘headaches’ as it means everyone in his disposal is playing well.

More of the same please lads!