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Roker Roundtable: Who could be Sunderland’s ‘players to watch’ during our final seven games?

As the season heads towards its conclusions, which players could be keen to impress and in some cases, to stake a claim ahead of next season?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Joseph Tulip says…

There are several players who’ll want to make an impression before the end of the season, but injuries will deny or at least restrict some lads from having opportunities to impress.

After growing into the game against Burnley, Pierre Ekwah will be looking to keep hold of his shirt in midfield, and Abdoullah Ba finds himself in a similar situation.

Other newer signings including Isaac Lihadji, who’ve found themselves on the fringes, will be looking to make an impression from the bench. I’d also love to see more of Jewison Bennette, if he’s fit enough to play any further part this season.

More experienced players such as Dennis Cirkin and Aje Alese will feel as though they’ve already done enough. Cirkin should have a chance to make a mark in the remaining games whilst Alese remains sidelined through injury.

It’ll be an interesting contest at right back, with Lynden Gooch and Trai Hume going head to head and Niall Huggins waiting for his chance to get fit and find much-needed game time.

Up front, the jury’s out on Joe Geldhardt.

It looks as though he’ll get the nod as our main striker and if he does, he’ll need to find a way of making a greater impact.

Burnley v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship - Turf Moor Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says…

I’d like to see a lot more of the players who’ve just started to emerge and show their value, and I’d also like to see some of the players who are recovering from injury regain full fitness ahead of the break.

At the back, Lynden Gooch did well at Burnley and with news of another injury for Niall Huggins, I’m hopeful the combination of a fit Dennis Cirkin and Gooch can see us home.

In the middle, I’d like to see more of both Abdoullah Ba and Pierre Ekwah, who’ve both played well and have slowly improved.

Up front, with Ross Stewart and Jewison Bennette both injured, we’re reliant on Joe Gelhardt but I’d like to see a few starts for Isaac Lihadji.

I’d also like Amad to go out with a bang rather than a whimper.

He’s been great this season but he isn’t currently as impactful as he was earlier in the campaign and he deserves a send off surrounded by the magic he can conjure up.

Tom Albrighton says…

I don’t think anyone has anything to prove, such has been the relative success of our league campaign.

If we cast our minds back nearly twelve months, we could’ve had a list of players as long as your arm as we spent a season enticing players with a point to prove and who went on to do so.

This season, everyone to a man has proven themselves more than capable of playing to a high standard at this level, giving absolutely everything for the cause and highlighting that they’re not only worthy of the praise which has come their way, but also to wear the shirt.

Saying these lads have nothing to prove isn’t a reason for them to take their foot off the gas and to cease developing their game and taking it to new levels, but this season was all about survival, even if we did briefly flirt with the idea of the playoffs.

In doing so with so many games to spare, each player who’s contributed has done so in a fashion that shows they belong in this league at the bare minimum.

Ask this question in January and the answers given may be totally different but for now, these players have earned their right to wind their season down and say ‘I told you so’ to all who doubted them or cast them aside in previous years, especially a certain Mr Roberts.

Sunderland v Luton Town - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light Photo by Will Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images


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