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Will Sunderland have to change the way we play to accommodate our new forwards?

Will Tony Mowbray have to alter his system in order to keep everyone happy, in the wake of signing a raft of new forwards?

It is a long while since a Sunderland head coach has had this many strikers to manage, but that is the challenge facing Tony Mowbray for the rest of the campaign.

There have already been one or two ideas thrown around as to how this can be done, but will any of them actually work out?

The first solution that has been mentioned could be to play one of the new forwards in a slightly wider position, with another through the middle. This could be a valid option going forward given the personnel Sunderland now possess.

For instance, Ukranian youngster Nazariy Rusyn has previously played wide, meaning he could give the flexibility which would allow someone like Mason Burstow, or maybe Hemir to play straight through the middle where they would likely be more effective.

Although, given who Mowbray would have to leave out to make this system work it seems unlikely to happen.

Both Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts - when fit - seem pretty much nailed on out wide and given what Mowbray has said publicly about the pair it is hard to see either being left out.

This would leave Bradley Dack and Jobe Bellingham as the only two viable options to drop to make this system work, but again both have been regulars up to this point and they’ve been crucial in Sunderland’s two league wins to date, with Bellingham scoring two against Rotherham and Dack providing a goal in what was a tireless performance in the demolition of Southampton.

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

With all these things considered it seems improbable that Mowbray will go with this option long term.

Another suggested alternative would be to go back to a potentially old-fashioned method and play a conventional 4-4-2 formation. It is something that could potentially work well with the taller Hemir playing with another slightly more agile forward in say Rusyn or Burstow, who are both quick and direct.

However, it would still mean that Mowbray would have to leave out two of his so far preferred options, and once again Dack and Bellingham would seem the only possible players to make way. The wings would without doubt be manned by Clarke and Roberts and the central midfield would almost certainly be Dan Neil and Pierre Ekwah, leaving Mowbray little room for maneuver.

Once again, it is maybe tough to see Mowbray making such radical changes, so players being rotated in with one of the current forward line being rotated out on a week-by-week basis seems more probable.

Sunderland face their first three-game week of the season upon their return from the international break, with a trip to QPR on Saturday, followed by a clash with Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday evening and finally a home meeting with Cardiff City on Sunday afternoon.

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

Given this packed schedule, it seems likely some rotation will happen across the three fixtures anyway, with Mowbray keen not to overload his younger talents.

It will certainly be interesting to see how the Sunderland boss handles his squad longer term, with all these players you would think joining on the promise of significant game time.

This is likely more relevant in the case of Burstow, with Chelsea surely wanting assurances about minutes before agreeing to the loan deal. These players will for sure get their chances over the course of a long and grueling season, but it remains to be seen how long they may have to wait for these opportunities.


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