Centre half Jordan Willis has opened up about the shape of the Sunderland squad and has previewed the trip to The Valley to take on Charlton Athletic, who looks to be our early promotion rivals. Willis reckons we have a solid defensive line with himself, Aussie international Bailey Wight and Northern Ireland international Tom Flanagan making up the back three as well as Luke O’Nien and Denver Hume as the two wing backs.

“Charlton will be a difficult opponent, of course – we’re in a tough division this year, but we’ve looked at them and had a good start ourselves, so hopefully we can continue that on Saturday. I think you saw it last season as well as the start of this one, that we’ve really taken pride in our defensive duties and keeping clean sheets. You can see on the pitch that everyone’s putting their bodies on the line, blocking crosses, getting in front of shots, and we really take pride in that. The system is working very well so far. For me personally, I’m enjoying the defensive side of the game with Bailey Wright and Flanno (Tom Flanagan) who have been excellent, and as well being able to have that freedom to join in down the right-hand side with Luke O’Nien and Chris Maguire. We’re constantly looking to add to our games individually too. You look at it on paper and you think it’s a very tough start, but at the same time it gives us a good opportunity to get ourselves right up there, with a head-start on the teams who also want to be challenging right up there at the end of the season. Training has been good, the same as the last couple of weeks really. The manager has been telling us what he wants from us and the lads have been performing out on the training pitch, so hopefully we can take that into the game and get the result at the weekend. We had a good pre-season, and we definitely have the legs within the squad to contend with the run of games. I’m sure the staff behind the scenes will be keeping the lads right and we’ll be firing and ready to go each game.”