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Carl Winchester: Is he any good? Forest Green fans give lowdown on potential Sunderland signing

Sunderland are, according to reports, set to announce the signing of Forest Green captain Carl Winchester - but, is he any good? We asked a few Rovers fans what they think of the incoming midfielder...

Barrow v Forest Green Rovers - Sky Bet League 2 Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

RR: So, Carl Winchester - is he any good?

Nathan from the Heaven’s Devils Podcast: I’ll put it this way, when we talk to opposing fans from other League Two sides, the one player they always mention being worried about is Carl Winchester. He is a fantastic player who wreaks havoc in League Two.

RR: What sort of midfielder is he?

Laurie from The Pod on Top of the Hill: Winchester is extremely comfortable on the ball. His passing accuracy and average passes per game has consistently been amongst the highest in the league for the two and a half years he’s spent at Forest Green. He enjoys being in a possession-heavy side.

However, last season there were significant improvements in his game. He began to take more risks on the ball, started to take more shots, and chipped in with more goals than he had done in his first season. He’s not an outstanding ball-winner and he’s not a number 10, but he is just very good at keeping the ball moving quickly in the middle.

Forest Green Rovers v Crawley Town - Sky Bet League Two Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

RR: How would you describe his physique?

Laurie from The Pod on Top of the Hill: He’s not particularly tall or imposing. He is very nimble and can turn away from players pretty easily.

RR: What are the biggest strengths in his game?

Laurie from The Pod on Top of the Hill: As mentioned, his passing is extremely accurate and he can move the ball at a good tempo too.

His ability to strike the ball from outside of the box is severely underrated. Both of his goals this season came from outside of the box, as did two of his five goals last season. They were pretty much all low, driven shots into the bottom corner. He has outstanding technique, and a great engine too.

Last season he missed the opening day of the season with an injury, but he played every other second in the entire campaign. He’s reliable and very consistent.

RR: And weaknesses...

Laurie from The Pod on Top of the Hill: Probably overplaying. At Forest Green, Winchester was encouraged to come deep for the ball and a lot of the play would go through him. In his last appearance against Crawley, he gave the ball away in his own third of the pitch which led to a goal. He doesn’t do it too often, but he can be guilty of overplaying in fairly dangerous areas.

He also played at centre-back in the FA Cup at Lincoln earlier in the season, as Mark Cooper believed that he would help us start play from the back. However, that went horrifically and Rovers lost the game 6-2. I think that experiment proved that he should always be played as a number eight.

Forest Green Rovers v Northampton Town - Sky Bet League Two Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

RR: Do you feel he’s capable of playing and starting for a team who hope to get promoted from League One this season?

Nathan from the Heaven’s Devils Podcast: We are blessed to have many players of League 1/Championship quality. Winniesta is probably at the top of that list. He’s a reliable rock to any midfield—a leader and an excellent passer who can help control the game. He’s got the ability to make an impact early and with a supporting cast he can elevate your team.

RR: Just how important is he to Forest Green?

Laurie from The Pod on Top of the Hill: A very important player. If last season had been played to its natural conclusion, then I’m pretty sure he would have won our player of the season.

There was a period last season where Forest Green couldn’t buy a win and we were playing poorly as a team, and Winchester was probably the only individual to come out of that spell with any credit. Our captain at the time, Joseph Mills, was injured, so he took the armband and led by example. He scored five goals in seven games during that spell. He will be a big miss.

RR: To any Sunderland fans who aren’t sure about this signing, what would you say to them?

Laurie from The Pod on Top of the Hill: I’ve seen some Sunderland fans who aren’t sure on the signing, purely off of the basis that he’s signed from Forest Green. Winchester is League One quality, and clearly Lee Johnson likes him as a player and likes him as a character as he played about 50 games under him at Oldham. Don’t worry about whether he might be good enough for the Championship in the future or not. He’s 27, in his prime, and has been one of the outstanding players in League Two for the last 12 months at least. He deserves this opportunity.

Nathan from Heaven’s Devils Podcast: He is easily League 1 quality and you’re going to love using the nickname “Winniesta.”

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