The pieces ahead of Sunderland’s return to the Championship season are slowly being put into place.
This past week or so has seen more players signing up to new contracts, and we’ll hopefully seal our first new signing of the summer in the coming days.
Lynden Gooch, Anthony Patterson and Patrick Roberts had agreed new deal prior to Wednesday, setting us well on our way towards a complete squad.
The latest man to sign up again for the next two seasons is one who has become an integral part of our side on the pitch, and a player who is brimming with confidence off it.
Bailey Wright has been part of the furniture for most of our League One slog. 37 appearances, various strong defensive performances and two goals last season turned Wright into a player who we couldn’t perform without.
It’s no lie to say that we looked much weaker without the big Aussie in our side, and he’s a player who, like plenty of others, has earned a new contract and another shot at the Championship.
Having centre backs who are calm, confident and strong on the ball has helped with our long unbeaten run which ultimately helped us get out of League One last season.
One half of a solid pairing, for the second half of the campaign especially, was Wright. He and Danny Batth looked like far more confident players under Alex Neil, and with cover from Manchester City prospect Callum Doyle as well as some strong performances from Anthony Patterson we suddenly became pretty hard to score against from February onwards.
Not that we need to list reasons as to why Wright deserves a new contract and why he will be a key figure around the dressing room next season, but here’s just one more.
We head back into the Championship with a wealth of young players in our squad. They are learning fast, but one downfall is that few of them have genuine experience of playing in the second tier.
Sunderland will be the third Championship side Bailey Wright will have turned out for. Seven seasons in the second tier with first Preston North End and then Bristol City equates to over 120 appearances.
Perhaps even more importantly, he’s had the experience of making the step up from League One to the Championship before. Getting Wright signed on again was an important box that needed ticking ahead of the new season.
In the past five years, there haven’t been many central defenders who have looked as competent for Sunderland than Bailey Wright.
He hasn’t always been partnered alongside players who were good enough, but for the large part he’s kept his own performances in check.
His character and experience will go a long way to determining how we fair this coming campaign, which is why having him remain on Wearside is so important.