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Report Card (Attackers): Rating Sunderland’s players now we’ve reached the winter break

Now we’ve reached the winter break it makes sense to take stock of things - and today, we’re grading Sunderland’s attackers. How have they done so far?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Jewison Bennette: B-

When Jewi scored the equaliser against Watford it felt as though I’d just witnessed a new star bursting on the scene - the way he took the ball down and stuck it away was fantastic, and the celebrations in front of the away end were even better.

That said, I have to credit Tony Mowbray for the way he’s handled him, because it could have been very easy to just chuck him in from the start of games after that. Instead, he’s chosen to take his time, and whenever he’s been asked about the Costa Rican winger he’s been keen to stress just how hard it must be for a teenager who doesn’t speak a word of our language to come over here and immediately adapt.

His cameos from the bench have been promising though, and whilst we’ve only seen glimpses of his ability I think it’s very clear he’s not ‘the next Milton Nunez’, which some idiots speculated on before they’d even seen him kick a ball.

He’s away to the World Cup now and being a teenager playing on the biggest stage is going to mean he’s got a lot of eyeballs on him - indeed, only this week there have been reports linking him away with a move to La Liga giants Valencia, who are said to be tracking his progress.

It’s probably a little too early to be talking about him leaving but it’s obvious to me that he’s got a very bright future in the game, and that we’ve not even scratched the surface when it comes to what he can achieve in a Sunderland shirt. VAMOS!

Watford v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Jack Clarke: A+

Four goals, six assists tells its own story really - since signing a permanent deal, Clarke has seriously stepped things up and is now showing why Spurs spent an absolute fortune on him when they signed him from Leeds a few years ago.

He’s our most dangerous player on the ball, and the best thing is that he’s going to continue getting better - the second half of the season could be huge for him, especially with Ross Stewart and Ellis Simms back fit and firing, giving all of our wide players something to hit when they get down the sides and cross the ball.

If there was an award for player of the season already, he’d get my vote.


Leon Dajaku: D

Not really sure I expected anything to happen differently when he signed a permanent deal in the summer, particularly given he was equally as unimpressive in the league below, but the fact he’s not been able to establish himself in the team during the two months we didn’t have a centre forward says it all, really.

I suspect he’ll be gone in January.

Luton Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Amad Diallo: B+

If the season had gone on another couple of weeks before breaking I suspect Amad would be getting an A for his performances so far - he’s only just starting to break into the side, showing us his quality.

His performance away at Birmingham felt like a coming-of-age display from the Manchester United loanee, and was the moment when many Sunderland fans stood up, took notice and acknowledged that this lad has something a little bit special about him.

The only way is up for Amad!


Patrick Roberts: B+

Like Clarke, we’ve only really seen the best of Paddy since we got promoted - or to be more precise, since Alex Neil left and Tony Mowbray arrived.

The new manager has repeatedly made a point of bigging Roberts up whenever he’s asked about him, because he knows that the key to getting the best from him is to make him feel unstoppable.

If I was going to be critical I’d say that I’d like to see more of an end product from him now that we have strikers back in the side, but he’s scored some cracking goals this season and is truly a joy to watch when he’s in full flow and dancing past defenders.

As far as free transfers go, they don’t get much better than this one.

Reading v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

Ross Stewart: A

God, have I missed this man.

I think Ross Stewart will play in the Premier League very soon. Hopefully that’s with us, but I guess that’s a different discussion - it would be epic if we could get him tied down to a longer term deal soon, as all parties could probably do without the constant speculation surrounding his future.

That aside, his performances in the Championship have been great, and he’s continued where he left off in the league below by scoring goals and terrorising defences with his unique centre forward play.

The rather inoccuous-looking injury he sustained in the warm up at Middlesbrough had the potential to derail our season, but thankfully it didn’t and now we can look forward again - hopefully with Ross back leading the line when we take on Millwall in a few weeks.


Ellis Simms: B

After an absolutely amazing start to life as a Sunderland player his performances tailed off slightly, and then the injury he picked up away at Reading kept him out of the team for most of the season.

His return has been a welcome one though, and after contributing an assist down at Huddersfield he then followed that up with a great performance at Birmingham, scoring a really nice goal which will hopefully stand him in good stead once the action resumes after the break.

Simms has done absolutely fine so far, and some of the criticism in recent weeks has been ridiculous given he’s clearly playing half-fit to help the team out.

The problem I guess is that people will naturally compare him to Stewart, which is probably harsh because they are totally different types of strikers.

The hope now going forward is that he can form a formidable partnership with Rossco and Amad that will light up the division as we seek to push further up the table.

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