Philip West says...
Yes. Without a doubt. A fully-fit Denver Hume is an asset to our team.
Defensively, under Lee Johnson, we have generally been solid and tough to break down, but there is no doubt that Hume’s absence has been keenly felt. Going forward, he offers great energy and a willingness to pick passes and take on the opposition, and he is also more defensively reliable than Callum McFadzean, who has seldom been entirely convincing and can often take undue risks with the ball at his feet.
McFadzean has made the role his own, largely because the loan signing of Jake Vokins - a supposedly highly-rated defender from Southampton, for whom it has not quite worked out. Consequently, it has undoubtedly become a problem position for us, and has added to the makeshift feel of our defence in recent weeks.
Hume’s return would in my opinion give the team some freshness. He will doubtless be eager to get back into the squad and make up for lost time, and if he is fully fit, I would expect Lee Johnson to have no qualms about selecting him.
Johnson has already shown during his time as Sunderland manager that he is not averse to bold selections, and given how highly he has often spoken about Hume and the potential he possesses, it seems that he has a great deal of faith in him, and I’m sure Hume will be keen to repay that faith.
Reece Davies says...
As much as I would love to see it, I just don’t deem it possible just yet.
Coming back takes time and although any football “match” is competitive, a friendly and U23 game in Denver’s eyes will be all about feeling his way in. There’s nothing like a competitive fixture to cause a player to overstretch and put his body in places that will bring about another or a reoccurring injury. That’s just a fact. Lee Johnson has too much about him to dent Hume’s progress and throw him in. If it were me, he would have a week or so left U23. Level before being in the squad.
After that he’s likely to come off the bench for 20 mins/half hour and be a contender for a starting place towards the first Blackpool game in mid-April.
Having Hume back in the side would be a boost, no doubt about it. There’s no secret that the left-back position has been our weak link for much of this season, and while they’ve taken a lot of stick, McFadzean and Vokins have churned out some have decent performances in recent times.
So with that, I don’t think there’s much rush to throw Hume in at the deep end.
Hume and Jones getting back in this team (and no injuries in other positions) makes for a starting eleven that can no doubt demolish teams in League One. I hope it’s possible sooner rather than too much later, but for now, Hume may need to bide his time.
Malc Dugdale says...
I would prefer to bring Hume on from the bench, to be honest.
There are several reasons for this, not least the fact that McFadzean has really improved over the last few games, and has won us points we may not have taken by bagging a goal in a very tight match. He deserves to be rotated out in a respectful manner rather than being immediately dropped for the young promising lad back from the physio couch.
On top of the “respect for improvement” angle, despite McFadzean's issues in the defence, he is part of a back line that has racked up a lot of clean sheets, which means a lot in this league.
He has his faults but he is one of the unit across our back four (or five) who are covering for each-others strengths and challenges, keeping Burge’s job easier than it could be.
Hume has only played once under Johnson right at the start if I recall right, so will be way behind with tactical and playing understanding with those around him versus the like of McFadzean, as well as in match fitness. Hume has had repeat issues with injuries too, which we don’t want to invite back by rushing him into first-team action.
We could shoot ourselves in the foot in numerous ways if he is pushed in too rapidly, so I’d have him on the bench with Jones and throw them both in with 30 to go, and watch them help us keep the winning run going without too much risk of disruption or re-injury being a factor.