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Sunderland v Oxford United - Sky Bet League One

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Sunderland’s attackers are all on their own journeys - what does the future hold for them?

Lynden Gooch, Leon Dajaku, Alex Pritchard and Nathan Broadhead are all in different places right now with regards to their place in the side. What do you think about their respective roles in Lee Johnson’s team?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Phil West says...

Although I do think he has some of the attributes required to fill in as a fullback when necessary, not least his boundless energy and work rate, I do believe that, when Lee Johnson can finally field a full-strength squad, Lynden Gooch will be deployed in a solely attacking role.

His performance against Morecambe demonstrated that, when he gets on the ball in good attacking areas and plays with intelligence, he can be a real threat.

The supply line from wide areas really needs to be as plentiful as possible, and I think that Gooch will definitely be a part of that.

It is absolutely crucial that Leon Dajaku is afforded time and patience to develop into the player that he has the potential to become.

I have great admiration for the way that Lee Johnson has shown faith in him, and he has been rewarded with two superb performances and two goals in the last two games. A slow start to his Sunderland career was not surprising, but you can see that he is growing in confidence, and is determined to contribute as much as he can this season.

I also think his attitude has been excellent as well, as he rarely shows negative body language on the pitch, and has certainly immersed himself in the club during his time here.

Alex Pritchard has been something of a puzzle since he arrived. A player of undoubtedly impressive pedigree, having played in the upper echelons of the football pyramid, he didn’t get off to the strongest start in the red and white, undoubtedly due to external factors, but he is now looking every inch the quality playmaker that we hoped we were signing.

Against Oxford and Morecambe, he demonstrated his ability to use the ball well in tight areas, and play his teammates into promising positions.

I think he possesses the kind of football intelligence that we sorely need, and I’m looking forward to seeing how far he can go this season.

Signing Nathan Broadhead permanently would be a huge boon for the club. A rapid, elusive forward who continues to forge a strong relationship with Ross Stewart, he also has a keen eye for a goal himself, and is proving to be a real menace to opposition defences.

Like Dajaku, he is not the finished article and has substantial room for improvement, but if we could secure his signing, there is no reason why he couldn’t continue to develop and flourish in the red and white stripes.

Sunderland v Morecambe - Sky Bet League 1 Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Joseph Tulip says...

I’ve no doubt that Lynden Gooch’s versatility will continue to be deployed for as long as he’s at the club. His ability and willingness to play at fullback or wherever else he’s asked to is a credit to the player.

Gooch sees himself as a striker while we all know about his credentials as a winger or wide midfield man. He won’t become a regular fullback or wingback, but Gooch’s performances there should strengthen his overall standing at the club as a key player.

Leon Dajaku arrived as a young, raw talent and his quality is coming through thanks to faith shown in him by Lee Johnson and the game time he has been awarded. Like Gooch, Nathan Broadhead and Alex Pritchard, Dajaku is in the current starting XI and I think that shirt is now his to lose.

I’d love to sign Broadhead - he’s a good all-round striker who is strong on the ball, runs the channels and fits into the way we play. Pritchard is already ours, injuries and a fall from former glories led to his arrival but our faith in Pritchard has enabled the former Huddersfield man to demonstrate, with a good run of games under his belt, just what a quality player he is.

Pritchard can clearly play at a higher level and will be a great asset in the Championship should we get there come May.

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

Malc Dugdale says...

I think Gooch will head back up the pitch when we get a fit and firing left back, but he has to be applauded for his contribution to the Morecambe game.

The shouts of “Goooooch” could not have been more welcome or more deserved, especially after his error contributed to the draw versus Oxford. He more than made up for that error in the week, helping us to resume the 2 PPG across the two games, with some stellar assists. He will come up against more resilient opponents though, so once we have options I think he will resume more advanced positions.

On Dajaku, there was a point in time not too long ago where I was wondering if he was going to be the new Jordan Jones.

Like Jones, he made a really big impact in some of his initial run-outs for the lads, but there was a spell where he was more restrained and error-prone, and a little anonymous if I can be straight. Now he has found his mojo, we need to feed it and water it, and make sure he carries on developing and growing. He can be a major player in this league with his pace and ability, so let's give him chance to shine down the line.

On Pritch, what is there to say other than “thank God we didnt end up with another Grigg situation”! Again, I was already mentally comparing the strong historic reputation and the potentially unfathomable failure in red and white between these two signings, both of whom had big price tags associated to them.

Alex has gone from strength to strength though, becoming one of our most consistent midfield presences, while slowly gaining fitness and touch over recent matches. Embo must be gutted to be kept out of the side, but the pace, hunger and application that Elliot is demonstrating when coming off the bench to replace him or others is another weapon for us, so long may the form of both these players add to our arsenal and bring home wins and goals.

Finally on Nathan, he too is a star who is shining more and more as time passes.

His goal at Cambridge had even the coldest of hands clapping hard, showing that he can be the difference in a game, even in very challenging conditions. His display against Morecambe was another level again. His headed goal helped the lead build when we at times looked like we may let them back into it, and he had absolutely no right to score from where he did for his second, but his power and accuracy were simply too much for the opposition defence.

If we really do have an option to retain him as a long-term or even permanent player, that will have been a masterstroke of recruitment by SAFC (finally!), and he really could be a star of the future in this league and above.

These last couple of games has shown some great signs for both existing talent and newly signed blood in the squad. Let's hope they all continue to perform as they have for the last 135 minutes, both on Saturday and beyond.


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