As the transfer deadline draws closer, the one position Sunderland are lacking depth in is at left-back. Denver Hume is Phil Parkinson’s clear first choice and has started the season well, but he should suffer an injury or dip in form Sunderland need a credible alternative option.
Within pre-season academy graduate Jack Diamond was trialled at left wing-back, but whilst he is brave and direct going forward, whether or not he could effectively defend is up for debate. The 20-year-old was used predominantly on the left-wing for Harrogate last season and would be more effective further forward.
I consulted Sunderland fans via Twitter and the majority voted that the club should sign competition for Hume. With Sunderland unlikely to spend a transfer fee, it is likely a free agent will be signed. A youth loan is an option, but will a Premier League club send a young left-back to sit as reserve to Hume? Below I have identified two left-backs recently released from EFL clubs, who are set to secure new moves for the 2020/21 season.
Interested to learn of Sunderland fans’ opinions on the club signing a new left-back. ⚽️— Matthew Crichton (@MattyCrichton) September 21, 2020
22-year-old Denver Hume is one of Sunderland’s best prospects, but is he good enough to start in a promotion winning squad? ♂️
The best option available within the free agent market currently is Jordan Obita. In terms of an offensive full back who is effective both offensively and defensively, the 26-year-old is the perfect candidate.
Recently released by Reading, Obita has played most of his football at Championship level and despite injuries plaguing two years of his career, he still regained his place back in the Reading matchday squad last season.
Signing a player from the division above would provide excellent competition for Hume and would give Parkinson the quality and depth required for the club’s aspirations of a promotion campaign.
The only major sticking point within this deal would be wages, as Reading are notoriously high spenders. Would Obita be willing to drop his wage to join Sunderland with the hope of earning a bigger contract if we receive promotion, or will he be patient in hope of a foreign move on more money?
Reading fan Simeon Pickup, Editor of The Tilehurst End, said:
Jordan Obita was a very popular and highly regarded player for Reading fans up until his release in the summer. If it’s an honest, hard-working pro with a great attitude you’re after, you won’t do much better than Obita.
He was originally earmarked as a winger or number ten when he came through the academy around a decade ago, but an injury crisis in 2013/14 prompted him to be moved to left back. Although that’s where he’s played the bulk of his football, he’s still appeared in a few other positions, such as on the left and centre of midfield, so would be a versatile option.
However, his experience as a left wing back would make him a good fit for Sunderland. He’s well-rounded - mature defensively to cover that flank well and dynamic enough going forwards to contribute in the final third with the odd goal and assist.
Obita is solid, reliable and would be a very good signing for you on a free. Don’t worry too much about his recent injuries - he’s already shown the sheer determination to fight back from a two-year absence to get back into the side last season and play more than 20 times.
My second option is more unknown, former Liverpool academy left-back Sam Hart. The 24-year-old was released by Blackburn this summer after making just seven appearances in three years, as he has spent most of his tenure with Tony Mowbray’s side out on loan.
Hart would most definitely be a back-up signing, unlike Obita who would provide direct competition, but he’s someone who fits Parkinson’s formation perfectly as a quick offensive full back who has been used as a winger.
The left-back has racked up 50 League One appearances across loan spells with Port Vale, Rochdale, Southend and most recently Shrewsbury. His best spell in senior football was at Southend during the 2018/19 season, where they beat Sunderland to avoid relegation to League Two.
Hart would not be an exciting signing by any means, but would provide a better option as cover at left-back compared to Jack Diamond or Lynden Gooch.
Blackburn fan Daniel Ainsworth of Rovers Chat said:
Rovers fans didn’t see too much of Sam Hart during his time at the club. He only made seven appearances in his three years with the club, spending most of him time here out on loan. In fact, I’m pretty sure I saw him more for the Under 23 side than I did for the senior side.
He did play in pre-season last summer and looked like he could get a chance, but an injury stopped this and he fell down the pecking order and ended up out on another loan spell.
Hart is an attacking full-back, playing on the left wing a few times during his loan spells and with the U23s. He does look dangerous going forward, although his final ball is lacking at times, but I expect this could be worked on.
I believe he would be a decent signing for Sunderland. League One is probably his level, and with a consistent run of matches behind him, he could turn out to be a clever bit of business from Sunderland.