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Reader’s Corner: The re-emergence of Jordan Willis is key for Sunderland’s success this season

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In this edition of Reader’s Corner, RR reader Matthew Lyons talks about how he feels a fit and firing Jordan Willis is absolutely key to Sunderland’s success this season - he’s that good.

Oxford United v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Leila Coker/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Sunderland’s season so far has been characterised by solid defensive performances, and whilst in recent weeks many of those performances have been without Jordan Willis in the side, his performance against Wimbledon was a stark reminder of his quality and just how important it is for Sunderland to get promoted this year so that we can keep a hold of him.

Jordan Willis was brought in on a free transfer at the start of the 2019/20 season under Jack Ross’ tenure, and it has proved to be a very shrewd piece of business. He embodies a modern-day centre back with his strength, pace, athleticism, and ball playing skills and I believe he has the capability of playing at a higher level.

Against Wimbledon, he showed class in a game which prior to Wyke late goals, on the whole was bereft of any real quality. Willis once again showed how important he will be for Sunderland this season, and whilst Wimbledon didn’t have a lot to offer going forward, the partnership and Willis and Bailey Wright was assured, and they dealt confidently with everything that came their way and I never felt like we were going to concede.

In the league Sunderland have picked up 9 clean sheets and have only conceded 15 goals. Only Lincoln have kept more clean sheets with 10 and Portsmouth have also only conceded 15 goals.

Sunderland Training Session Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Nonetheless, it highlights the importance of Sunderland’s defence and whilst Sunderland’s attacking displays have been far from dazzling this season, the game against Wimbledon illustrated how keeping clean sheets gives you a foundation to go and score goals.

It is well known to Sunderland fans that Willis makes up one of the many players whose contract is up at end of the season. During the week, Lee Johnson made clear that the salary cap is having a big impact on what Sunderland can do, both in terms of bringing players in and offer new deals to the current players.

He admitted that Sunderland will struggle to hold on too many of their senior players if we don’t get promoted this year. Jordan Willis was brought in prior to the introduction of the salary cap, so he will be on wage which exceeds that of what the restrictive salary cap would allow us to offer him.

As Willis is in the last 6 months of his deal, he is free to talk to clubs and I have no doubt that Willis will already be on the radar of championship clubs. Yet with 21 first team players out of contract in the summer, it should act as a damning indictment of the importance of Sunderland getting out of league One this season.