Sunderland will have to dust themselves down after playoff misery last season, and look to go one better in 2019/20 as they look to return to the Championship.
After Wembley heartbreak for Jack Ross’ side, they will enter the new season as one of the favourites for promotion, with potentially the best squad in the league on paper.
A key reason for the Black Cats’ failure to achieve automatic promotion last season was the failure to turn draws into wins, but with another pre-season of coaching with Jack Ross under their belts, as well as a few additions, there is feeling that Sunderland can improve this season.
Pre-season is underway, and the friendly schedule is looming, so Jack Ross will be keeping a keen eye on players who underperformed last season, as well as fringe players who may fight for a spot in the starting eleven.
Here, we list three players at the club that really need to step up and perform early on in pre-season, with a big campaign ahead of them on a personal level.
Do you agree, or can you think of a player we’ve missed who needs to up his game in pre-season ahead of a huge season for the club? Let us know in the comments section below.
Will Grigg signed for Sunderland in January in what was tipped as a great deal to replace the outgoing Josh Maja, who left for Bordeaux.
It didn’t really work out for Grigg for Sunderland in the second half of the season though, scoring just four goals in 18 appearances – not the clinical goalscorer Sunderland thought they were buying.
Despite this though, with a pre-season under his belt, Grigg has all the attributes to rediscover his Wigan form and excel at Sunderland. He has scored exactly 100 League One goals in his career and will be hoping to add a few more this season.
Ethan Robson is set to be part of Jack Ross’ first-team plans this season, stepping up to a role in the squad from the youth team, after making a few appearances last season in the cups and off the bench.
With Lee Cattermole leaving the club, Ethan Robson may look to fill a void in central midfield, and will be hoping to impress in pre-season ahead of a huge season for him.
At 22, Robson may view this year as make or break in his Sunderland career, as he looks to gain a regular starting spot.
Oviedo has been playing in the Gold Cup with Costa Rica, who were knocked out on penalties by Mexico, and there may be doubts over his fitness going into the new season given the amount of football he has played in the last twelve months, and the lack of rest he has had.
Ross and Sunderland will be hoping Oviedo can function well in pre-season and show a sign that he can be a big part of Sunderland’s season this season, as they hope to go one better than last time.