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Max Power has grown into the role of being Sunderland captain - and he’s improving as a result

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“Since owning the role of on-pitch captain under Phil Parkinson, Max Power has improved tremendously and is starting to show why he could potentially be an important player as we aim for automatic promotion” says Paddy Hollis.

Sunderland v Doncaster Rovers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The situation around Sunderland’s captaincy position this season has been, well, rather strange. In the summer, upon George Honeyman’s departure from the club, Grant Leadbitter was given the slightly vague status of club captain, despite everyone on Wearside knowing full well he wouldn’t be getting much game time.

Grant seems a very grounded guy and an important player to have around the dressing room, but the question of who was going to regularly lead the side on the pitch and have the legs to play a full 90 minutes needed answering.

Up stepped the man with one of the best names in football - Max Power, who has had the armband for most of the season so far, and is growing into the role.

Sunderland v Doncaster Rovers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

At times this season, and especially last, Power has frustrated the hell out of me with some of his displays. He’s got the ability and desire to be a very solid League One midfielder, and possibly above, but often at Sunderland he’s struggled to stamp his mark.

Thankfully these issues are, hopefully, becoming a thing of the past. The standard of his performances have gone up in recent weeks, as has his intensity on the ball. For me, this is linked with the improving form of George Dobson. Is it any coincidence that Sunderland’s upturn in form has coincided with our central midfielders gelling well together?

Back when Power first signed, I was genuinely hopeful that he would have a solid career at Sunderland. It started well enough, but for too long he seemed to retreat away from responsibility. His tough tackling and long range passing vision went AWOL for too long last season and for some parts of the current campaign before the turn of the year.

When the full-time whistle went at MK Dons, one of the first players to come over to the travelling red and white masses was Power. He came over with a beaming smile, fist pumping the Buckinghamshire air. I think Power loves it at Sunderland, and that is precisely the kind of player we need to have as captain.

Milton Keynes Dons v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

We had this in George Honeyman last season - it’s just a shame that he got the constant criticism which probably made his move to Hull City a far easier decision to make.

Max is enjoying probably his best spell of form since arriving at the club. As a player who has a lot of experience as this level and in the Football League in general, he was the perfect player to bring in when we first found ourselves in League One.

Thankfully, he’s showing the kind of form we expected we’d see from him when he arrived from Wigan, on the back of a promotion out of the third tier. If he keeps this up he might be leading his side out as a Championship team next year. We can dream, anyway.

It’s refreshing to see players who want to play for the club after such a long time of overpaying for mercenary players. Max Power isn’t the best midfielder we’ve ever had, but seeing him get stuck in is something which is hard to get tired of.