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Roker Roundtable: Could a Sunderland exit be on the cards for Bailey Wright?

The Australian fell down the pecking order last season and he's recently been linked with a move to Rotherham. We asked our writers for their thoughts on his future

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Anthony Gair says…

It was almost anti-poetic when we loaned out Wright last season.

The minute he left, it seemed like we lost every central defender in the squad, and we ended up playing Luke O’Nien and others there instead!

Now we’ve replaced the best Australian we’ve ever had with an even better Australian, and Wright’s unfortunate injury at the back end of the season for Rotherham, which forced his return to the club, could cement the fact that we’ll now be happy to see him go.

Wright will always be popular in these parts due to his tenacity and that image at the end of the playoff game with Sheffield Wednesday, where he suffered a cut just above the eye.

A player who’s been a fan of Sunderland since he joined and another one who got taken up in the whirlwind that is Sunderland AFC, I’ll be sad to see Wright gallop off into the sunset on his mighty kangaroo, but I feel that it’s the best move for both parties.

G’day, Bailey, and good luck!

Sunderland v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet League One Play-Off Semi Final 1st Leg Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Joseph Tulip says…

I completely hear the argument that our progression from League One to Championship top six has meant that some of our previously dependable players have been deemed surplus to requirements, with Carl Winchester a perfect example.

Wright is another, but I also feel that these wise old pros were never given a proper chance to show what they could do for us at Championship level. I was a bit frustrated when he was loaned out, and even more so when he couldn’t come in to plug some of the holes we had in defence due to injuries last season.

Say what you want about ability and pace, but Wright would’ve been the ideal man to win headers on that fateful night against Luton at Kenilworth Road, which ultimately ended our playoff hopes.

He’s a proper centre half, just like Danny Batth, and I genuinely believe he could’ve helped us at times.

That’s not to say that now isn’t the right time to move on a player who’s served our club with distinction, and with the arrival of Nectarios Triantis and others in front of him in the pecking order, I’d have faith in Kristjaan Speakman and company if they think Wright’s time at Sunderland is up.

Equally, and I might be in the minority here, I’d be happy to retain such a top pro if he’s willing to be part of the squad and ready to come in when needed.

Malc Dugdale says…

I’d be happy for him to move on this summer, or to go on loan again if that works for all parties.

He’s been a great servant but the indications are that we’re not really playing with centre backs like Wright any more, and that what he brings isn’t quite strong enough for the level we’re at and the squad he’s part of.

To get a start in the centre of our defence next season, you need to be better than Dan Ballard and/or Danny Batth, and Wright isn’t as good as either.

He’s a strong lad but his pace, especially on the turn, has waned a little (or maybe it’s the same but this level simply demands better ability). Also, his ability to play out from the back isn't even close to his competition, especially Aji Alese and Ballard.

As backup, we’ve got Alese, Luke O’Nien, Joe Anderson and now Nectarios Triantis, and we’ve seen that both Dennis Cirkin and Trai Hume can also step into the middle if needed.

I can’t see how Wright will get much football for us, and unless we have even worse luck with injuries than last season, he won’t get near the starting eleven in my view.

As I said at the start, he’s been a great lad for us and he deserves to play the game he loves, so let’s move him on, either with another loan or a permanent move. He’s still got lots to give, but he just hasn’t got enough to challenge in red and white in the second tier.

Maybe one Aussie in and one Aussie out makes more sense than just having him hanging around and not getting many minutes. Time will tell.

Blackpool v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Martin Wanless says...

Purely from a playing perspective, I wouldn’t be too bothered if Wright left during this transfer window.

Although he’s been a good player for us, when you look at the likes of Ballard, Batth, O’Nien and Alese, I think they’re in a different league, and with the signing of Nectarios Triantis, we’ve now got another player competing for a place in the centre of defence.

In hindsight, we shouldn’t have loaned Wright out in January as it turned out we really could’ve done with him. However, that’s not a good enough reason to keep him now.

What is a good enough reason, however, is his off-field influence, and it’s for this reason I think we should keep him at the club if at all possible.

We’ve got a very young team, and Wright’s well known for being a very positive, popular leader among the squad. That experience – he was playing in the World Cup only seven months ago – can’t be underestimated, and I think it’s invaluable.

So, I reckon it’ll come down to Wright himself, because if he wants to play regular first team football, then I think we’ve outgrown him, which is a good sign. As a club, we’ve shown that we’ll do what’s best for the player and if Wright wants to leave, I doubt the club will stand in his way.

However, if he’s happy being a bit-part player, lining up on the bench, playing in the Under 21’s, possibly developing his coaching skills and filling in in a crisis, I’d love it if we kept him.


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