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Roker Roundtable: Should a reunion with Dion Sanderson be on our agenda this summer?

After spending a productive loan spell at the Stadium of Light during the 2020/2021 season, would it be worth potentially bringing him back for 2023/2024?

Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images

Gav says...

Not for me.

Sanderson was a good player for us in League One but that was a long time ago, and there are better players out there and available to us than him.

I’m not talking down his ability, because he’s definitely a Championship defender and if we did sign him he’d probably do a fine job, but I think our recruitment this summer has to be ruthless and has to be pointed towards creating a Premier League squad.

Frankly, anyone we sign this summer has to be with one eye on the top flight. We have to think that at some point they can play for us at a higher level, or can be developed into a player that top flight clubs may covet, such as Jack Clarke.

Given the way we do our business these days I think that a player like Sanderson is probably out of the question, because for the sort of money it would cost to acquire him I think there will be younger, cheaper options available who have more of an upside.

Really, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion if he hadn’t played for us in the past.

Sunderland v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet League One Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Dan Harrison says...

Had you asked me twelve months ago, I would’ve certainly been on board with the idea of taking Sanderson back on a permanent contract at the Stadium of light.

During his time with Sunderland, he showcased all the attributes required to be a utility centre half at a higher level- able to play as part of a three or four, with plenty of room to develop and mature with the rest of the side.

Given our current scenario however, £2 million is a large chunk of money to spend on someone, especially when you look at the shrewd acquisitions of Dan Ballard and Aji Alese for a combined fee of roughly £2m (excluding add-ons.)

We’ve shown that if we look hard enough, it’s possible to find players with just as much upside but with much better value for money in terms of potential future capital.

Therefore, unfortunately, I think it’s worth a swerve on Sanderson in the current climate.

That being said however, should Sunderland be able to acquire him at a lower asking price than the originally quoted £2m at a later point in the window, I don’t think I’d be adverse to it at all, just not at the current valuation.

Malc Dugdale says...

I’d be happy to have Sanderson back in the squad, but looking at it from another perspective, I’m not sure it’s the best move for him or us.

At this level and above, he’s very much a squad player, and someone who’s yet to prove he has more than very good attributes for League One football.

Yes, he’s shown that he’s suitable for a Championship team not really gunning for promotion, as was the case while he was on loan at Birmingham, but does he have the quality to be a top six defender and maybe a player in the Premier League? I’m not sure.

Coupled with the suggested price tag and the fact we’re on the right track in terms of finding great players who are also bargains, I can’t see this happening.

If the price is better than suggested and he’s willing to fight to prove he’s got more than we’ve seen (and that he’s fully recovered from injuries which blighted his last time with us), maybe he’d be a worthwhile addition to our squad.

The good thing for us right now is we’ve got a great selection of defenders when they’re all fit, and he can certainly do a job in filling gaps caused by injury.

Sanderson is as good as someone like Bailey Wright, but he isn’t quite as strong as the likes of Ballard, Batth, Alese and Cirkin. From his perspective, I’d be wondering how I get a regular place in the team if I came back to Sunderland.

As was the case with a potential return for Ellis Simms, I’d cheer the lad all the way if he pulls back on a red and white shirt, but we’re now a forward-looking club so I think both links are possibly more lazy conjecture during a quiet seasonal phase rather than solid football fact.

Accrington Stanley v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Mark Wood says…

If my feelings on resigning Ellis Simms were generally OK but not overwhelmingly positive, my feelings regarding signing Dion Sanderson are actually a lot more enthusiastic.

I get what people say in that he did well for us in League One but that was all, but when he came into Lee Johnson’s team two years ago, I thought he looked like a cool and classy centre back who was composed and comfortable on the ball, which would suit our style of play well.

Not only that, he came into a team which, like 2022/2023, had been hit hard by injuries in defence. He formed a partnership with Luke O’Nien at the back when O’Nien had barely played as a centre half before.

What I saw was Sanderson stepping up and being the leader in that defence- the man making the last ditch tackles to prevent certain goals and with his pace, able to cover for any errors by his teammates.

I thought he was immense for us at the time despite his young age and being inexperienced himself. My thought was that if we signed him, he looked like a player who could go all the way to the Premier League with Sunderland.

He’s done well with Birmingham in the Championship and their fans apparently would love to have him after watching him for eighteen months, so he’s hardly a gamble at a reported £2 million.

Maybe we could find someone for less, but would they be as good? I just thought he was great for us and I wouldn’t have any qualms about seeing him in a Sunderland shirt again.


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