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The Roker Report Draft: Best Sunderland XI - Round 5 & 6!

The last two rounds of picks saw Raich Carter, Marco Gabbiadini, Julio Arca, Gary Rowell and Lee Cattermole go - which former Sunderland heroes will our participants select in rounds five and six?

Soccer - Football League Division Two - Sunderland Photocall Photo by S&G/PA Images via Getty Images

Round Five

#33 - Tom Albrighton - John O’Shea

Big John. his legs may have gone by the end, but he read the game like it was a children’s book. A wealth of experience mixed with complete and utter professionalism, John was another that gave his all. Not always consistent but very much adored, O’Shea was a constant in the back line through some of our finer days.

In fact, John was so good at times that referees would send off Wes Brown instead of him.

#34 - Michael Graham - Don Hutchison

Another player from the north east, and the finest goalscoring midfielder we’ve had in 40 years.

#35 - Gav - Bobby Kerr

Again... thirty-five picks in, and nobody has picked Bobby Kerr.

I’m stunned.

Still, I’m glad, because he goes into my team on the right of a central three. As I mentioned previously, having leaders in my team is vitally important. Bobby Kerr led Sunderland to the final of the 1973 FA Cup final, which we of course eventually won.

He’s a bona fide Hall of Famer, and walks into any team.

#36 - Rebecca Johnson - Seb Larsson

Think I’ve redeemed myself with this pick. One of my personal favourite Sunderland players to have watched, everyone loved Seb Larsson, I could watch his set-pieces every day, especially that lovely free-kick against Liverpool on his debut.

Larsson is one of those players who gave his all for the lads, a solid grafter and a complete earwig for referees. Many supporters were disappointed to see the back of him when he transferred to Hull in 2017, he had to have a spot in my side.

Leicester City v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Stephen White - CameraSport via Getty Images

#37 - Chris Wynn - Colin Todd

Wasn’t sure how long the opportunity to pair these two would last, so I took it with both hands - giving me an irresistible combination in the centre of my defence of Dave Watson and Colin Todd. Had that occurred for real we’d have been mixing with the big boys.

Playing for Sunderland between 1966-1971 making almost 200 appearances, Todd left for a British record transfer fee of £175,000 to Brian Clough’s Derby County. He went on to gain 27 caps for England and win the PFA Players Player of the Year award in 1975.

To say that I’m ecstatic with the centre back pairing in my back four would be the biggest understatement since Jim Lovell uttered the words “Houston, we’ve had a problem”.

#38 - Matty Crichton - John Mensah

It is rare you will find a player who has made more appearances for his country than any club team, but here we are with the Ghanaian brute that is John Mensah.

Like my previous pick Craig Gordon, Mensah has a horrific record with injuries, but when he did play for Sunderland I remember him as being great in the air and having decent pace for a central defender.

Mensah would do you a job, you just had to make sure you had a sub ready and waiting...

#39 - Danny Roberts - Claudio Reyna

A lot of my top choices for the centre of midfield have already been taken, but thankfully this little gem is still available and will slot perfectly in to my central two. Claudio Reyna only played a handful of games for the club, before moving on to Manchester City, but in those appearances he showed a touch of class. The American had the ability to control games from deep, spraying balls about and showing a calm, level head.

Sunderland fans often spoke about having that ‘key’ in the side to unlock defences in recent years, and this man certainly fits that bill. An added bonus to this pick is that Reyna was most-certainly a set-piece specialist.

His time on Wearside is fondly remembered by two exquisite free-kicks against Leicester City back in 2002, helping the Lads starve off relegation.

#40 - Chris Camm - Allan Johnston

I write this shortly after Part One of this draft was released. One of my good pals sent me a message right away, not only to ask why Sessegnon was picked ahead of Niall Quinn and Jermain Defoe, but also to tell me that I better had picked Allan Johnston because once a legendary SAFC player (who I’ll not name just in case) told him that he was better than Summerbee in his opinion.

Good job I have then.

Soccer - Nationwide League Division One - Sunderland v Birmingham City Photo by Adam Davy/EMPICS via Getty Images

Round Six

#41 - Chris Camm - Jan Kirchhoff

One of Sam Allardyce’s inspired January signings, Jan Kirchhoff came to the lads from Bayern Munich with a reputation for having great quality and being injury prone. He lived up to that reputation perfectly. Massive part of our survival bid that year and I have never seen a player capable of reading a game and dictating play as well as Kirchhoff did in red and white stripes.

#42 - Danny Roberts - Emerson Thome

A completely no-nonsense centre-back to partner the other no-nonsense centre back. Emerson Thome, like Reyna, was only at the club for a short while, but during his time here, he was solid centre back who wasn’t afraid to get stuck in and win the ball. The partnership of Thome and Kaboul would be one that Premier League strikers would hate, knowing that they’ll leave the pitch with more than a few bumps and bruises.

On top of their tough defending, both could move, especially Younes, and a mobile defence is an extra perk in the modern game. Thome, Kaboul and Sorensen; not many of the competitors have a better back three than that...

#43 - Matty Crichton - Kenwyne Jones

Since Niall Quinn has been picked, the next best Sunderland target man from the Premier League era is... Dame N’Doye… no it’s super Kenwyne Jones!

John Terry once said Jones was the best in the air in the entire Premier League, which explains why he was linked with Liverpool and Chelsea during that period.

The Trinidad and Tobago international played the best football of his career under Roy Keane at Sunderland, during the 2008-09 season he averaged a goal every 3 matches.

By reuniting him with Darren Bent, my team has fantastic aerial presence, as well as pace and power. An attacking trio of Bent, Jones and Sessegnon would do damage to any team!

#44 - Chris Wynn - Dennis Tueart

With the spine of my team locked in and looking solid, we go to my first pick out wide. Although a few have already been snapped up - I manage to get the man at the very top of my list for the left hand side of my midfield - the one and only Dennis Tueart.

With 218 appearances between 1967-1974 he was instrumental in the 1973 FA Cup winning side and inevitably followed in the footsteps of Dave Watson. He not only moved to the First Division with Manchester City in 1974 but also played 6 times for England.

With the prospect of Tueart supplying the likes of Brian Clough from the left wing, the attacking side of my team is starting to shape up just as nicely as my back four.

Soccer - Football League Division One - Sunderland Photocall Photo by PA Images via Getty Images

#45 - Rebecca Johnson - Nicky Summerbee

Now here is a pick and a half, a player I’m gutted not to have seen play, but I’m reliably informed by members of my family that he’s a quality pick. Every side needs a player who can deliver balls into the box with pin-point accuracy, which is why Summerbee made it into my side.

Renowned for his crossing ability and plays down the right wing, Summerbee was a player adored by many Sunderland fans and is fondly remembered as being an integral part of the team that achieved promotion to the Premiership in 1999.

#46 - Gav - Micky Gray

Let’s be fair - Sunderland haven’t been blessed with top quality left backs over the years. Off the top of my head I can only think of a handful, and I discount loanees who were only here two minutes because they largely played in teams that struggled against relegation. It’s an insult to even consider players who came here to earn a bit of experience, as opposed to laying down a legacy.

Micky Gray might not be a particular popular personality but, as a player, there weren’t many finer in his position. His running from deep and pin-point crossing was a vital cog in the Peter Reid machine which saw Sunderland sky-rocket from being a Championship side to one which challenged to play in Europe two seasons running.

Don’t forget, Micky was picked for England when playing in the second tier.

Aside from that, he’s a born and bred Sunderland lad who is one of our all-time leading appearance makers. Had the side not plunged out of the top flight in dramatic style, whilst the club was in deep financial turmoil, then I have no doubt he would have finished his career with his boyhood side, a true one-club player.

Michael Gray

#47 - Michael Graham - Sam Allardyce (manager)

No good having good players without the right manager. Hurley, Bould and Evans set-up by Allardyce would be colossal, and we’d be a huge set-piece threat too, especially with a Hutchison sniffing around too.

#48 - Tom Albrighton - Patrick Van Aanholt

Patrick Van Aanholt couldn’t defend to save his life, got constantly beaten and always let the cross come in. Why pick him then? Well, in my mind anyway, PVA was far better suited to an attacking role (hopefully, many would agree too).

Blessed with pace, Van Aanholt loved to get forward, sometimes to his own detriment. Getting at right backs seemed to be his best ability at times and Patrick always seemed o provide either a threat or a cross in the final third, so with picks flying everywhere and good left footers in short supply, Patrick’s going on the left wing. I won’t be apologising.

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