What I want to see is the emergence of Joe Anderson as a proper first team player, starting with this game. His ability is what brought him to the football club and whilst he’s not got the minutes under his belt that you’d ideally like from a player coming into the fold, we can’t be choosy. The three choices ahead of him in the pecking order are injured and the team needs balance, so playing a left footed defender on the left is what makes most sense to me.
That said, I don’t expect that to happen and I think what Tony Mowbray will do is he’ll go with Luke O’Nien there, which whilst I’m sure he’ll do a fantastic job, doesn’t really do us any favours in other areas of the pitch.
I’m even boring myself in saying this at this point, but the complete lack of physicality that we have in midfield has been the biggest reason we’ve lost the last three games, and I’ve been desperate to see Luke in there. I get the reservations over playing Anderson against such a difficult opponent, but I think we need O’Nien more in the centre of the park than we do on the left side of defence.
Maybe Tony Mowbray will surprise me, but I have my doubts.
Jon Guy says...
For me, we have to go with Joe Anderson.
He came with a very decent reputation from Everton U23s, and we got Aji Alese from West Ham’s U23s, so you would like to think that Anderson can adapt to life in the Championship in the same vein. Also, he is a left-sided defender, and to be honest, Luke O’Nien is more likely to feature in the midfield on Sunday, given the need to put some physicality in there.
We have seen the way our talented youngsters have acquitted themselves this year, and we need to stop trying to put square pegs in round holes.
The other factor is Anderson has played centre half, so can compete in the air.
Aji gave us another player decent in the air defending set pieces, and it is a factor we need to recognise. Use a left-sided player rather than putting a right footer who can “do a job” in there.
Our luck with injuries has been horrendous this season, but we need to play with the hand we have, and Anderson fits the bill.
Gary Engel says...
Sunderland’s left back position has been an ongoing issue for the past decade or more. Fleetingly, we seemed to resolve it under Gus Poyet with Alonso and then, Van Aanholt.
Since their departure though we’ve been, at best, only one injury away from a crisis in the left back position.
Dennis Cirkin’s been a revelation following his arrival, he is not the finished product but you see the potential. He will find his feet again in the coming weeks now that Alese’s season is over.
The one chink of light in the meantime is, left back is arguably the position with the most cover now. O’Nien will fill in for now, I’m sure. But once up to speed there is also Anderson, Gooch and Huggins who can do a job there.