Jobe Bellingham has been pretty bloody good since arriving at Sunderland, to say the least.
The young midfielder has looked at home in red and white and he’s played a major role in our strong start to the season. Indeed, he’s one of only a handful of players to start every league game so far, and he’s completed a full ninety minutes on five occasions.
At eighteen years old, Bellingham certainly has the legs to do this, but maintaining his current workload for the entire season might lead to us running him into the ground, something that Sunderland have been guilty of in the past, and Callum Doyle in particular springs to mind.
With the Doyle situation, and given the defensive issues we had at the time, we had no choice but to play him week in and week out. With Jobe, however, that won’t be necessary, given our depth in this position.
In the last two games, it’s fair to say that he’s not been at his best.
This has nothing to do with his ability, but is more likely the result of an extended run in the team and starting matches on a regular basis.
To get the best out of our players, it won’t hurt to rotate them every now and again, and if Bellingham was rested occasionally, I don’t think many fans would complain.
Attacking midfield isn’t necessarily a position where we’re short.
Abdoullah Ba and Patrick Roberts have both played there in the past, and we’ve seen some good moments when they’re on the pitch together. Although injured at the moment, Adil Aouchiche has also played most of his football in this role, and the early signs from him look promising.
One player who could be getting closer to a senior start is Chris Rigg.
He’s enjoyed some positive cameos when coming off the bench in recent weeks and like Jobe, he looks far more mature than his young age would suggest. If Tony Mowbray opts to start him against either Swansea or Birmingham, it would be thoroughly deserved.
When it comes to attacking options, there’s no need to worry or panic this season.
The goals are coming thick and fast and despite many of them coming from the boot of Jack Clarke, they’ve often been spread around the team. Midfielders including Pierre Ekwah, Dan Neil and Jobe have been involved in ten of our goals so far this season, and each of them have looked superb.
Rotating these players wherever possible will ensure that we get the best out of them, and their young age can’t really be an excuse for playing them week in and week out.
Jobe is perhaps the best example, given that he’s the only one of our attacking midfielders to have started every game this season.
Putting Rigg in the number ten role would add more energy and an ever-increasing touch of class from another very promising academy product, and with matches against two sides currently below us in the league coming up, now feels like as good a time as any to give Jobe a well-deserved break.