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Summer Scouting: Finding Sunderland a replacement goalkeeper now that Jon McLaughlin has gone

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Jon McLaughlin is no longer a Sunderland player, and whilst we already have Lee Burge, Parky will be keen to find an able replacement. Who should we target? Phil Butler takes a look at the data to see which players might be bargain buys.

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

Despite Jon McLaughlin being one of the best signings made under the ownership of Stewart Donald, finding his replacement for Phil Parkinson should, in theory, be fairly straight forward since the club won’t be looking for a player who is good with the ball at their feet.

A simple, yet admittedly not foolproof, way of measuring a goalkeepers shot stopping with statistics is to calculate an adjusted save percentage.

This is, in short, the difference between a goalkeeper’s actual save percentage (number of shots conceded resulting in goals) and a goalkeepers expected save percentage (number of shots conceded per expected goals).

The top 19 goalkeepers across EFL2, EFL3, EFL4, SFL1 and SFL2 according to Adjusted Save %

The two outstanding goalkeepers in terms of shot stopping appear to be two 22 year olds, something which bodes well for Sunderland as they look to get the majority of their players on either loans or free transfers.

Portsmouth’s Alex Bass has been linked to Crystal Palace of the Premier League, and won’t be available to loan next season either - unless he is loaned out by a Premier League club. However, Conor Hazard’s limited first team career saw him keep 6 clean sheets across two loan spells at Dundee from Celtic last season and his Adjusted Save % of 10% (meaning he’s saved 10% more shots than expected) would likely reduce over a 46 game season but remains outstanding. The Northern Ireland international is yet to spend a full season out on loan, so it is likely he will be available in the summer.

The next two goalkeepers, Allan McGregor and Anssi Jakkola, can be ruled out due to wages and a recent contract extension but provide a more realistic target for AS% since their sample size is larger.

Two young keepers which should be on Sunderland’s radar are Nathan Trott, who spend last year on loan at AFC Wimbledon from West Ham, and Owen Evans, who was at Macclesfield and Cheltenham in League Two from Wigan. Both ‘keepers achieved AS% over 5 and are at an age where it is likely they will be looking to continue their development on loan for another season.

Whilst Evans would be my preferred option of the two - since he has had a full season away on loan, albeit at a lower level - since Wigan have been relegated he may not be available for loan (although he would be goo value for money for a reasonable transfer fee). Trott is perhaps the most likely, given that he spent last season at a club in the bottom half of the division, and is unlikely to be deemed ready for the Premier League - especially with West Ham looking for a new goalkeeper in the transfer market.

Finally, David Cornell would provide an option if Parkinson wishes to replace McLaughlin with another experienced goalkeeper on a free transfer. 12 clean sheets in 34 League Two games at Northampton make their decision to release him surprising, especially given that at 29 he should be entering his peak. Cornell would likely be a safe pair of hands, but with Burge already providing this insurance I wouldn’t mind Sunderland taking a risk with a young goalkeeper on loan.


All Stats from Wyscout