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Roker Roundtable: Alex Pritchard is back, so how big an impact can he make?

Pritchard played a major role in Saturday’s draw with Millwall after returning from injury. We asked our writers for their thoughts on how key he’ll be for the rest of the season.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Andrew Smithson says…

There’s no doubt about it: Pritchard will be vital for us over the next few months.

It was a nice boost to have him back against Millwall and his cross for the equaliser was a brilliant reminder of his quality. He’s got some lovely skills and I can see him being involved in plenty more goals going forward.

The other aspects of his game are just as important, however.

His work rate is phenomenal and that little bit of extra know-how will come in handy. He’ll also help us to defend from the front, which will be a huge plus now that we don’t have Ross Stewart harrying. Also, with Corry Evans out, a bit of experience and game management will be a big help to the younger lads.

We’ve had no luck with injuries this season and Tony Mowbray has had to manage his resources quite a bit. However, I think having Pritchard back will help things no end, and his desire and ability are just what we need right now.

Sunderland v Swansea City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Anthony Gair says…

Pritchard is my favourite player.

We’ve got exciting talents like Jack Clarke and Amad ripping up the wings, but nobody has the brain of Pritchard.

His passing game is exemplary, he keeps the others on their toes, and is always clapping and urging his teammates on.

I believe he’s capable of playing at the highest level and that he’s got the footballing intelligence to help fire us into the playoffs. His experience could be something that will help the younger lads glue the rest of their game together, too.

I’d love him to play in every game for the remainder of the season.

Martin Wanless says…

It’s always positive to see players come back from injury, and Pritchard certainly made an impact from the bench on Saturday.

As well as his free kick to set up Dennis Cirkin’s equaliser, I thought he gave us a calmness on the ball that had been missing up to that point.

He’s a very good player and one of the few experienced heads we have available for the rest of the season, so for him to be around the squad on match day is a huge plus. I rate him as a player and I think he’s a good leader, so having him back can only be a positive.

However, I do wonder if he’ll start too regularly.

He’d been in iffy form so far this season and with the likes of Amad, Roberts, Clarke, Ba, Bennette and Lihadji in the mix, his starts could be limited.

Having said that, Ross Stewart’s injury does open up a spot and he could contribute there. Given that he’s out of contract in the summer, he’s got a lot to play for.

Sunderland v Millwall - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Phil West says…

I don’t think you can overstate the impact that Pritchard’s return is going to have on the team.

After losing Corry Evans for the remainder of the season, the experience and guile that Pritch will bring is invaluable, and Saturday was a timely reminder of exactly what he can offer. The challenge of The Den clearly held no fear for him, and when he entered the fray, it was obvious that he knew exactly what needed to be done.

The game was tight, tense and a throwback to the League One years in many respects, but as he did against Wycombe in the 3-3 draw at Adams Park last season, Pritchard got a foot on the ball when he came on, helped to settle things down, and it was his inch-perfect free kick that led to our equalising goal.

Perhaps he was inspired by the flak he took from the Millwall supporters before the game but either way, it was a superb contribution and a timely reminder of how valuable the ex-Norwich and Huddersfield player is.

He brings calmness, savvy, and an ability to retain possession. When games are tight, you simply can’t put a price on that kind of skillset.

Rumours of him departing during the January window thankfully came to nothing, and I’ve got no doubt that he’s going to play a major role for us between now and the end of the campaign.


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