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Sunderland v Lincoln City - Papa John’s Trophy

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Fan Letters: How important is it that Sunderland use all five substitutes in games?

RR reader Mick thinks that Sunderland should always take advantage of being able to make five subs, whilst Grant thinks caution should be applied when bringing back Hume and Wright. Got something to say? Email us:!

Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

There are lots of posts offering opinions about players coming back from injuries and who should play, who should be dropped etc. I am sure that Lee Johnson has the same thoughts on a daily basis and I trust him explicitly with whatever his decisions are. I do think that he has made some mistakes lately but he has still only been with us a relatively short period of time and nobody is perfect.

Personally I think that Mr Johnson should ensure that he makes full use of the five substitutes and puts all of his best options in the team squads, making the choices of squad players on a game by game basis.

Five subs is a lot, almost half a team, and some players will be more suited for some games than others. It’s the managers job to decide who’s best suited to get the results we need. I wish him and all of our great fans best of luck over this crucial part of the season.

Mick Colman

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Half the fun of being a supporter is discussing team selection – who should play, who shouldn’t, who should we sign – and rarely will you find consensus. I think it’s really difficult to say Johnson’s made mistakes recently given we’ve got 26 points from the last ten games. There are selections I’ve queried, and selections I’ve disagreed with, but ultimately his decisions have worked – so how can they have been mistakes? The only recent mistakes he’s made that I can see have been sartorial rather than selection!

In some games I’d have liked to have seen earlier subs made, however the danger of using all five – potentially half of the outfield players – is that some players will be doing very specific tactical jobs, and what may look like a like-for-like change to us could take something away from the team.

That said, we’ve got a busy run of fixtures between now and the end of the season, but – unlike last year – we’ve got a manager who’ll make good use of his squad to navigate through them.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One
Has Johnson made some selection errors? Mick believes he has.
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Love the upbeat Pods at the mo!! Been listening since the Moyes days and I think this is the first time you lads and lasses have been genuinely happy with the club.

Long may it continue!!!

Kyle Stewart (in Arbroath)

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks a lot for the email Kyle – we really appreciate you listening, and it’s nice to have something positive to talk about at the moment isn’t it! Let’s hope this is the ‘new normal!’.

Sunderland v Doncaster Rovers - Sky Bet League One
There’s lots to be positive about at the moment
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Not sure I agree that Wright and Hume should come straight in. Let them be ready when they do come in, and make them fight for their spot. It’s demoralising to the other players if they are shunted after putting so much effort in.

Grant Smith

Ed’s Note [Martin]: I think that, when they’re fully fit, they come straight back into the squad, and probably the first XI, Grant.

The caveat there is fully fit – we know Hume’s played a couple of reserve games now, so he’s certainly not being rushed back, but the reality is he’s significantly better than MacFadzean despite the upturn in form our back-up left back has enjoyed.

As far as Wright goes, if he’s fit he plays as far as I’m concerned. At this stage of the season we need our best players out there – we’ve got a tough run of games, a run in which we can’t afford many mistakes, and we’re going up against some of the league’s better forward lines. If we’d had recognised defenders playing in their place I’d be more inclined to agree, but I feel now’s the time for us to be ruthless in every aspect – including team selection.

If you don’t bring them back in when they’re fit, when do you? When someone makes a mistake or has a bad game? If so, it could be fatal at this stage of the season.


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