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Sunderland v Gillingham - Sky Bet League One

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Fan Letters: “It’s time for Jack Clarke to step up!”

Jack Clarke’s form, Dan Neil’s prospects, and the challenge of Cambridge are all discussed in today’s edition of ‘Fan Letters’. Got something to say? Email us:

Photo by Trevor Wilkinson/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

It’s time for Jack Clark and Patrick Roberts to step up to the plate.

Clarke had a nightmare against Plymouth, and with the game being live on Sky, you would have thought the lad would been busting a gut to put himself in the shop window for next season.

Clarke is the typical modern day footballer - overpriced and overpaid. We need more from him over ninety minutes, and not just glimpses, because he has the talent.

Roberts has more games under his belt now and hopefully could turn it on now till the play offs. Alex Neil has to get the best out of these two, to provide assists for Broadhead and Stewart.

At the moment, Stewart is playing too deep and looking for the ball. He needs more crosses into dangerous areas and he will score. It’s obviously going to go to the last game of the season, but we have great support and it’s now up to the lads to get this club into the Championship.

Mark Wild

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Thanks for your letter, Mark.

I do agree that Jack Clarke needs to show more than he has done so far. On the ball, he is a very confident and skilful player, but his end product is non-existent, and he often lacks discipline in his play. Roberts, on the other hand, is slightly more experienced and has looked like a real attacking threat on many occasions.

On Ross Stewart, he certainly needs to receive a greater standard of service than he is currently getting. If we can whip accurate crosses into the box from wide areas and vary things with some incisive passes from midfield, that is the kind of service than he thrives on, and if we can start to play to his strengths once again, he will certainly be back amongst the goals soon.

Sunderland v Gillingham - Sky Bet League One Photo by Trevor Wilkinson/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Dan Neil could make a real difference during the final run. Does else feel like he’s being held back for it?

We’ve seen every other midfielder given a fair crack under Alex Neil, bar Dan, who has had a handful of substitute appearances recently, and that’s about it.

Still dreaming of a playoff final goal from him to take us up.

Legend in the making... I hope.

Gary Birchall

Ed’s Note [Phil]: I agree with you on this one, Gary. It has been rather sad to see Neil, who was a crucial player for us earlier in the season, reduced to cameo appearances and not really given much time to make an impact.

That being said, he is a heck of a player to have at our disposal, and it will be interesting to see how Alex Neil manages him for the remainder of the season.

As a local lad, I’m sure he will be desperate to play a part in helping the club to secure promotion, and as you rightly say, he could be a real difference-maker in the playoffs.

Sunderland v Crewe Alexandra - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Cambridge are no mugs.

I keep seeing fans on Twitter and Facebook talking about this game like it’s a guaranteed three points, but how short are some memories? They are one of the only teams to beat our rivals up the road in 2022, after all! They also have taken points off our promotion rivals recently, and are a real threat, as we saw in the away game.

Fact is, if we don’t win we are in a very bad position, heading into a game versus a side going for automatic promotion, and then a game away at a team in Morecambe who have the league’s joint top scorer, and are probably going to need to win to stay up.


Chris from Durham

Ed’s Note [Phil]: I think Saturday’s game will be tricky, Chris, and I fully agree that victory is far from a certainty. Cambridge played very well against Wigan last time out, and they are a useful team who could pose us some problems.

On the other hand, there will be an expectant crowd at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, and I’m confident that our players will be ready to perform at their best. These are the kinds of games that can bring an extra fifteen percent out of a squad, and I’m hopeful that will be the case this weekend.

We looked tired against Plymouth on Monday, but I have faith that, after a good week of training, and with the likes of Alex Pritchard hopefully close to a return, we can do the business on Saturday and take a huge stride towards securing a place in the top six.

Cambridge United v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images


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