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Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet League 1

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Talking Points: Winiesta shines again, as does Cirkin - but Loch Ness Drogba met his match!

Our full backs were absolutely choss once again, and the new boys impressed off the bench... but we have to give props to Bolton man Santos for keeping the Highland Haaland at bay!

“Catch me if you can!”
| Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Winchester - the model professional

Even without the goal that he scored - which, by the way, was a tidy finish - Carl Winchester was probably our man of the match.

And whilst I’m not a fan of constantly repeating myself, I’ll happily talk all day about how great Carl Winchester has been since moving to right back.

There was a lot of talk midweek about potentially moving him to central midfield, and I get why people might want to see what he’d be capable of in his ‘natural position’, but I’d honestly be upset if we shift him away from right back when he’s been so good.

That’s his position now.

And it’s not like when Max Power played there, or even like Luke O’Nien, because anyone who has done their research will have noted that Winchester has played a fair bit of Football League minutes as a right back. He’s not a rookie learning a new role - he’s clearly very adept there.

I’m not sure Winiesta himself will mind where he plays either, because he’s less likely to lose his spot or stand out as a weakness at full-back.

He’s made that right-back spot his own and I would love nothing more than for him to continue growing and improving as the season progresses. He should be used as a shining example to our fringe players over how you should conduct yourself once you do actually get your opportunity, because he’s absolutely aced it.

Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet League 1 Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Cirkin is going from strength to strength

Speaking of brilliant full backs that are constantly improving - how good was Dennis Cirkin?

I’d argue he was our man of the match up until he went off with a head injury.

He’s hard as nails, great defensively, very good going forwards (he got the assist, remember), and technically very proficient with the ball.

You can clearly see why he’s so highly rated. Lee Johnson himself waxed lyrical during the week about Cirkin and our ability to have even signed him, and you can understand it now that we’ve seen him get a run of games to show what he can do.

I’m gutted that he’ll miss out on Tuesday because he’s become very important to us - but, I suppose that this now gifts Niall Huggins with an opportunity to prove his own worth.

What a fantastic position to be in.

Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

Huggins & Dajaku show glimpses of their capability

Huggins will get that chance on Tuesday, and he certainly did himself no harm with his cameo in the second half against Bolton. I suppose it’s a nod towards just how well-prepared Lee Johnson has his players in that these young lads can come into the team and slot in like they’ve always been there.

Huggins came on at left-back and I thought he was very good. He was organised and made some great tackles, and tried to get forward where he could. I’m a little bit worried that he might struggle physically, given he’s so small, but I suppose that the only way you’d find out is by giving him games, and he’s now got to give Lee Johnson a real headache.

Similarly, I thought that Leon Dajaku looked very lively. He clearly wanted to try and make an impression in front of the big home crowd, which is why he was a little indecisive with his finishing, but I was really happy with my first opportunity to watch him play.

Fans love a showboating maverick, and Dajaku looks tricky and like he enjoys exciting fans and showing off with his silky skills, and there’s definitely room for a player like that in this team - provided he also contributes defensively and off the ball, of course.

Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet League 1 Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Stewart meets his match for the first time this season!

Ross Stewart actually had a very good game on Saturday and did a fine job of leading the line, but I reckon that for the first time this season he met his match with Ricardo Santos.

The big 6ft5 Portuguese defender was absolutely solid at the back all afternoon and he posed a real challenge to our Scottish striker, who more often than not this season has had the better of his opponents due to his strength, workrate and pace.

That’s no slight on Stewart, as I doubt he’ll often have the problems that were posed by Santos when going shoulder to shoulder, but props to a very good player who I think is worth keeping an eye on.

Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet League 1 Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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