Malc Dugdale says...
Is there any good time to make a fundamental change to our defensive team?
Every game is worth three points, and across the last three games we have dropped 7 of the available 9 mainly due to poor defensive errors. It can’t get much worse so why not?
That aside, for me, this is less about if it is wise and, much like recent weeks, do we have many choices?
We simply cannot persist with Gooch at right back when we have a decent replacement on the bench. Trai should be up to speed way more now than when he signed for us, in that rare bit of early window business. He has to be given a try some time.
Batth is similar. While I’d have preferred playing Wright and Batth, we can consider playing with Doyle along side Batth, and using Hume and Cirkin in a back four, and if we really need to we can try Flanagan in a back three with Batth and Doyle either side of the new big unit. Without Wright, and with confidence in Xhemajli not forthcoming, I’m unclear how we can run out without Danny in the mix.
Why not now is the alternate query - we are at home, against a team who are in similar form to us and who we want to restore some pride against after a poor show at the pool down south. They have taken 6 from the last 15 points, we have earned 8.
We have no reason to fear anyone on our day, and less to fear Pompey now.
If we are serious about the top two we need to act in some way to change around our fortunes. Adding Hume and Batth at least tries something, as doing nothing is surely madness given the last three match’s outcomes.
Joseph Tulip says...
I think it’s a case of needs must at the moment for Sunderland. If Danny Batth is fit and available, I’d have no hesitation in putting him straight into the team, after all, we have signed him to play.
If Bailey Wright is injured, that is another blow, especially with his presence seemingly having a settling effect on our back line.
Lee Johnson does have options. If Trai Hume is available to slot in at right back, then that is his preferred position so we should have no fears over throwing him into the deep end against Pompey.
Both Tom Flanagan and Lynden Gooch have come in for criticism in recent weeks.
I think much of the angst aimed towards Gooch has been unfair as he has been playing out of position in some games, but I’d be tempted to keep him away from the full back berths as he is becoming a target for opponents looking to exploit his extra defensive responsibilities.
Could Flanagan switch to right back? I’m sure he’s played there before at previous clubs and let’s not forget, Wright himself was struggling at centre half before a move to right back revived his form.
Lee Johnson knows his players better than anyone, but I’m confident we have enough options to get us through what will be a crucial game.
Michael Dunne says...
I won’t say I know an awful lot about either Danny Baath or Trai Hume, but with regards to Sunderland’s defence, something needs to change.
Danny Baath certainly arrives with a glowing reputation. Wolves and Stoke fans have been fairly positive in their reports of him, whilst a Sheffield Wednesday fan I know expressed his disappointment of Sunderland obtaining his services ahead of them.
He said that “he will be the best defender in the league”, which is certainly a welcome statement considering the form of our defence lately.
I would be inclined to take Tom Flanagan out of the firing line for this weekend's game and partner Baath with Callum Doyle. Suggestions have been made that Baath isn’t exactly the best ball-playing defender but if he can do the ugly stuff, he can leave Callum Doyle to the more aesthetically pleasing parts of the game.
Sunderland need a win and need to get back to keeping clean sheets. I would be extremely happy with a hard-fought narrow win with a clean sheet. It will be interesting to see what the head coach decides to do!