After their failure to navigate themselves through the League One play-offs last season, Sunderland fans wanted to see mass changes to their squad ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.
It was set to be a pivotal summer with it being Kyril Louis-Dreyfus’ first transfer window as owner and he oversaw a real change in the guard at the Stadium of Light in terms of the playing staff.
One of the things fans wanted was for head coach Lee Johnson to take a look at the club’s under-23 squad, who had a pretty successful 2020-21 season in the Premier League 2 competition.
In particular one man who impressed was wide player Josh Hawkes, who netted 14 goals in 22 outings for the under-23’s and there were many calls for him to be given a chance by Johnson.
Have Sunderland ever been involved in any of these 18 scenarios?
After being on the bench for three of Sunderland’s first four matches of this season though as well as scoring in the EFL Cup against Port Vale, Hawkes was sent out on loan to League Two side Tranmere Rovers for the season – but how is he doing?
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Since the loan was confirmed a few days after the summer deadline slammed shut, Hawkes has featured four times for the Super White Army, starting three of those but completing a full 90 minutes just once.
Hawkes has proven to be versatile though – his first start which came against Rochdale saw him play in the middle of the park in a more attacking midfield role before moving out to the wing for the following two matches.
But it was his debut off the bench against his former club Hartlepool United which has seen his only goal contribution so far, assisting Tom Davies’ 89th minute goal at Prenton Park.
It’s still early days for the 22-year-old this season but he seems to be impressing some of his new fans on the Wirral.
josh hawkes is unreal
— woolley (@J1884W) September 18, 2021
End of day thought: Josh Hawkes is a baller
— Sam Naylor (@SamGNaylor) September 4, 2021
Wow what a player he’ll be for us this season, came on and changed the game straight away
— Josh hibberd (@Joshhibberd3) September 4, 2021
— Scott 🇸🇱 (@scott_trfc) September 4, 2021
Hawkes will be wanting to prove himself over a full season though to try and get himself in Johnson’s plans at the Black Cats next season – he will be 23 in January so it’s not like he is a kid but his first real experience of regular EFL football will surely do him the world of good.