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Sunderland v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet Championship

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Fan Letters: “Sunderland’s squad will improve the more they play together”

Thoughts on our squad chemistry, Sunderland’s injury situation and potential tactical adjustments are in the RR mailbox today. Got something to say? Email us!

Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I can only agree with Neal’s comments about getting behind the management and recruitment team.

The job they’ve done to strengthen the squad is fantastic and they haven’t broken the bank or spent stupid amounts of money to appease the impatience of some fans who are screaming for their heads.

The squad will blend and get to know one another, and as injuries improve and the players return, I’m confident we’ll climb the league .

Malcolm Donnison

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Malcolm. Thanks for your letter.

I do agree that when we can call upon the likes of Corry Evans and in particular Ross Stewart, we should be able to get on a run and start picking up some positive results. These are key players and their absence is definitely being felt.

In the meantime, we do need to add reinforcements before the transfer window closes, and if Tony Mowbray’s comments about potential transfers being worked on are anything to go by, we should hopefully be welcoming some new players to Wearside sooner rather than later!

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

Dear Roker Report,

The amount of injuries we had last season and at the start of 2023/2024 is shocking!

Perhaps a shakeup is needed in the physio department or maybe we should take a look at some of backroom staff.

I know players pick up knocks, but these are serious. We get them back for a run of games before the same injuries happen again and again, and to the same players, as well.

I’d put my wages on Bradley Dack being out by the end of September, and with Ross Stewart, Elliot Embleton and Aji Alese absent, the list goes on.

Does anyone else agree that it needs to be shaken up?

Marc Scott

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Marc. Thanks for getting in touch.

The injury situation is definitely frustrating and peculiar in equal measure, but I’m not entirely convinced that something is wrong behind the scenes and that major changes are needed in the medical department.

If you look at the likes of Jack Clarke and Dan Neil, they’ve proven themselves to be physically durable and rarely troubled by injuries, so perhaps it’s simply a case of misfortune rather than poor planning or execution on the training pitch.

Fulham v Sunderland: Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

We’ve got so many central defenders and Luke O’Nien playing at centre back when everything points to him playing in front of back two or maybe as part of three at the back.

This could help Dan Neil and Pierre Ekwah to be more supportive in attack.

Does anyone else notice how many times we lose the ball on the wings, which leaves our supporting full backs stranded upfield?

Danny Batth was outstanding last season and shouldn’t be let go, but I guess that we’re trying to free up his wages for more youngsters, so why bring in Bradley Dack?

He’s hardly played for three seasons and if Blackburn wouldn’t give him a contract, why is he good enough for us?

I’m totally supportive of our youth policy and I agree wholeheartedly that we’re at least two seasons away from the Premier League, so let’s concentrate on consolidation and allow our youngsters more genuine opportunities, instead of fifteen minute token appearances.

Sixty to seventy points is all that’s important at the moment, and when we start making it hard for teams to come to Stadium of Light, we can talk about promotion and the playoffs.

I’m puzzled as to why Tony Mowbray was desperate for height in the team last season and then he substituted Jobe Bellingham, Hemir and Ekwah, who are all over six feet tall, and brought on Alex Pritchard, Abdoullah Ba and Lynden Gooch.

John Hill

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, John. Thanks for your letter.

On O’Nien, I think it’s important to remember that although he’s not a ‘natural’ central defender, he often filled in there last season and generally did a good job.

He’s a versatile player and willing to play wherever is needed, and maybe that’s both a strength and a potential weakness in terms of him making a position his own.

When it comes to the ‘youth vs experience’ argument, I could see the logic in signing Bradley Dack, not least because he’s got plenty of games under his belt at this level and should be a positive influence on his younger teammates.

He’s played under Tony Mowbray before and his numbers at Blackburn were impressive, so he’s certainly got a role to play for us this season, albeit not as a ‘false nine’, which we tried at Preston with absolutely no success whatsoever.

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