Alex Neil prioritised experience over youth to ensure the Black Cats dragged themselves back into promotion contention, and the continuity helped them to step up to the big occasions in the play-offs.
Bailey Wright has had a challenging last couple of seasons at the Stadium of Light, but was as crucial as any other player at the business end of the campaign, demonstrating that he is ready for the step up to the Championship.
The Australia international has fallen out of favour in both of the last two seasons at Sunderland, but his performances in the crunch encounters under Alex Neil should see him remain an integral cog in 2022/23.
Wright only started 28 out of 46 games of the regular League One season, and his ball playing skills meant that Callum Doyle was typically preferred to him under Lee Johnson.
As a no nonsense defender, Wright was imperious and his leadership qualities came to the fore in a very big way in the play-offs.
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The 29-year-old is no liability with the ball at his feet it must be said and he posted a pass accuracy of 82% in the third tier and played as a right centre back in defensive trio on occasion.
Wright won 76.4% of defensive duels and was able to limit the freedom of some of the most menacing forwards for the level along the way.
The Australian showed his anticipation skills to make 4.9 interceptions per 90 minutes, a very impressive number when you consider how much possession Sunderland had, particularly under Johnson.
Wright is a very measured defender and has not picked up a red card in any of the last six seasons, the Australian made 0.73 fouls per 90 minutes in League One, which is a strong showing due to the pace of turnovers in possession.
Wright has bags of experience in the Championship where plenty of other squad members do not at Sunderland, and he could become even more prominent as the Black Cats acclimatise to a higher level.