Anthony Gair says...
Initially, my reaction to Roberts being injured was one of relief.
‘Thank God it’s not transfer-related’ ran through my mind, but then I realised he’s injured. He’s such an integral member of the squad and capable of moments of magic that can win you a game.
Do we have anyone else on the fringes capable of similar skill and technique? I don’t think we do, but how do we know if they never get a chance?
Therefore, I’m putting forward Jewison Bennette, and it’s his time to shine for the next two games.
His reputation when we signed him was one of a ‘Central American starlet’ and he’s still spoken highly of in world football. We know he’s raw, but game time will only make the lad better.
Throw Jewi in, give him two starts, and when he bags a hat trick in both games, we’ll have another star on our hands.
Joseph Tulip says...
In the not-too-distant past, the obvious solution would be to bring Lynden Gooch straight in as a like for like replacement.
It’s amazing to think it’s five years since Gooch first nailed down this position in a 4-2-3-1 formation during our first season in League One. He was one of the three playing behind Josh Maja, the others being Aidan McGeady and Chris Maguire.
Gooch has since proved his Championship credentials but with doubts over his future at the club continuing, is utilising the likeable academy product a realistic option? I certainly hope so.
We know what Gooch can do. He’s a reliable option and like last season, he could easily cover thirty-plus games this campaign in a variety of positions.
The other factor to consider for Saturday is personnel elsewhere. There are some new combinations in the team now, but I’m sure Gooch will have no problem linking up with Jobe Bellingham and Bradley Dack.
I do understand that Jewison Bennette could be another option, but I’d rather start with Gooch and have Jewi as an option from the bench.
Alex Pritchard could also play, potentially, but he too has a question mark over his future and he isn’t a wide player, so bringing in the former Huddersfield man would only be an option if we wanted to play with a narrow midfield.
Malc Dugdale says...
I’d really like to see Jewison Bennette given a chance before he’s shipped off on loan, if those rumours are true.
He hasn’t really been given a chance post pre-season, and his ability to cross balls in and to take men on and score goals at times would be welcome as we wait for Roberts to recover.
Lynden Gooch is a decent option, but we know what he can and can’t do. At Coventry, we have a chance to see what Bennette can do, though with the lack of evidence of him training with the team of late, it may be the case he already has one foot out of the door.
In reality, we’re likely to see Gooch on the pitch and maybe Trai Hume given a license to overlap and attack even more than usual, as we know he loves to.
I don’t see this short-term injury impacting our business that much, though this does suggest we could do with some wide cover, especially if Bennette isn’t seen as an option when Roberts is out even for a few weeks, and even more so if Pritchard is on the exit ramp too.
Tom Albrighton says...
The first thing is to count our blessings that Roberts’ injury isn’t serious and long term.
As a result of this, it’s hard to imagine Sunderland panicking in terms of a replacement, although it might change our transfer plans in the immediate future.
Reports have been circulating for weeks that both Lynden Gooch and Alex Pritchard are heading towards the exit door, which although understandable, leaves us short for cover out wide.
For me, the temporary solution is to utilise Gooch out wide for the time being.
He’s a known quantity with plenty of experience playing up top and out wide and whilst not possessing the same skill set as Roberts, he offers a slightly more direct approach with the added benefit of some defensive prowess.
In terms of transfers, this won’t rush Kristjaan Speakman and company into anything even resembling a panic buy, but it will stand to highlight that cover out wide is much needed, with neither Jewison Bennette or Abdoullah Ba looking capable or suited to playing in that role at this early stage of their careers.
Utilising Gooch as part of the squad at least until January seems the most logical approach, as he offers some much-needed experience whilst also buying time to find more suitable wing replacements going forward.