It’s a debate that is likely to continue as the season progresses, but the goalkeeping position at Sunderland is definitely one that is still up for grabs.
Jon McLaughlin has been first-choice goalkeeper for the majority of this year’s campaign, that was until Jack Ross was dismissed and replaced by former Bolton boss Phil Parkinson.
Since Parkinson has come into the side, Lee Burge has emerged as his preferred option between the posts, and the 26-year-old hasn’t done much wrong ever since.
Burge first caught the eye of Sunderland supporters with an impressive performance against Sheffield United in the EFL Cup, where he kept a clean sheet as the Black Cats progressed to the next round of the competition.
In our latest FLW Duels, we compare Burge’s and McLaughlin’s statistics from the season so far to find out who would be the better option to have between the posts for Phil Parkinson’s side.
These statistics have to be taken with a pinch of salt, especially given that McLaughlin has played over double the amount of minutes that Burge has so far this season.
But it’s Burge that has had more clean sheets in this year’s campaign with two to his name, whilst McLaughlin is yet to keep one which will be frustrating for the 32-year-old.
This could be one of the main reasons as to why Phil Parkinson opted to start Burge ahead of McLaughlin for his first game in charge against Wycombe Wanderers last weekend.
Burge has attempted less short passes than McLaughlin with 46 compared to the 32-year-old’s 91. But surprisingly, both players have exactly the same short pass accuracy with an impressive percentage of 95.6%.
McLaughlin has made over double the amount of saves this season with 31, although you have to feel that Burge would have made more if he had featured on a regular basis with the former Coventry goalkeeper only making 15 saves so far this season.
It’s going to be a real battle between the two goalkeepers as the season progresses, but it seems as though Lee Burge is going to be Parkinson’s first-choice goalkeeper for the foreseeable future, especially if he continues to build on his impressive showings recently.
Sunderland will be hoping that they can pick up back-to-back wins this weekend, when they take on Shrewsbury Town, in a game which would be a potentially tricky test for the Black Cats, as they look to keep the pressure on the promotion-chasing sides in League One.