Daniel McCallum gives us a run-down of the new players…
Lee Burge. The now-former Coventry number 1 has been brought in as back-up to Big Jon, and by the look of pre-season seems to be a solid replacement for Robbin Ruiter on the bench. He will most likely have an opportunity to show his quality in the Checkatrade, FA and Carabao cups.
Conor McLaughlin. McLaughlin was signed from Millwall with plenty of League 1 experience after 5 years and 172 games for Fleetwood- including an appearance in the 2017 League 1 team of the year. Jack Ross has trialed the natural fullback on the right-hand side of 3 centre backs and has impressed. He’ll hopefully be able to improve Sunderland’s defensive frailties, as Jack Baldwin has been the man who’s lost his place to the Northern Irishman in preseason.
Jordan Willis. Standing at just 5”11, supporters may have the initial impression that our new centre half won’t be dominant in the air. His showings in Portugal have shown this is not the case, his incredible jumping ability making up for his lack of natural height. Hopefully the additions of Willis and McLaughlin at the back will bolster the defence and create more competition for places. In turn, this should reduce the number of individual errors as players are always at risk of being dropped. Managing to sign the 24-year-old on a free from a promotion rival looks to be a stroke of genius from the owners.
Marc McNulty. The on-loan Reading striker hasn’t played yet, as he’s only recently signed. He suffered a nightmare time at Reading last season, scoring just one in fifteen games before moving on loan to Hibs where he impressed, netting eight times in seventeen appearances. Before his move to Reading, McNulty had a fantastic run in Leagues One and Two with Coventry, scoring 28 goals in 52 appearances. Hopefully the Scotland international can rediscover his form from Coventry and help improve a red and white strike force that has been firing blanks recently. It’s an option that offers something different to that of Wyke and Grigg. Wyke is more of a target man, and Grigg is a poacher that relies on teammates to create opportunities. However, McNulty seems to be a player that works hard, presses and can create chances for himself.
George Dobson. The most recent signing of the summer, Dobson is also yet to play for Sunderland at the time of writing this. The Walsall captain is only 21 and, like McNulty, offers something a bit different in his position. Where the majority of our midfielders are diminutive ball-players, Dobson is 6”1 and more defensive minded. He will likely take on Cattermole‘s role of winning the ball back and protecting the defence. His presence may offer more strength from set pieces, both attacking and defending, due to his height. The ex-Arsenal youth prospect became a firm fan favourite at Walsall and seems like a lad with a good attitude and hunger. Of course, with both Dobson and McNulty it’s incredibly hard to discuss the signings before having any matches under their belt in red and white.