This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict‘ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Sunderland centre-back Tom Flanagan has attracted the attentions of Bristol City, Middlesbrough and Preston North End, as per a report from Football Insider.
The 30-year-old has been a regular in Lee Johnson’s side this season, with the former Burton Albion man’s leadership, composure and physicality helping The Black Cats to a successful start to the campaign.
His performances, and his continued partnership with Callum Doyle, has kept out Bailey Wright and Frederik Alves, who are two excellent choices for Johnson to have at his disposal at this level.
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Sunderland currently find themselves in a poor run of form, but will be relying on the experience and influence of players like Flanagan to help them back to their early-season success.
Three of our writers here at FLW have assessed the kind of impact Flanagan’s departure would have on Sunderland as a whole, and their promotion ambitions…
With Flanagan’s contract up in the summer he would likely jump at a Championship move.
It would be a big loss considering how regularly he has played this season but with Arbenit Xhemajli coming back from injury, Bailey Wright and Frederik Alves occupying the fringes the Black Cats have the depth to cope.
It is Flanagan’s ball playing ability that probably suits him to Johnson’s style of play and gives him the most value in the squad. However, with Alves’ experience in the highly technical Premier League 2 where route one tactics are almost never adopted he would fancy his chances of stepping up to the plate.
It would be a loss but not one that Sunderland could not cope with and replace the services of.
It would be a great loss of experience for the Black Cats if he was to go in January.
Considering he’s started alongside 18-year-old Callum Doyle pretty regularly this, that loss of experience from someone who has spent years at this level would be detrimental to the Manchester City loanee.
Their defence hasn’t exactly been the strongest in recent weeks anyway, so this departure of a key could cause a complete collapse, not just because they are losing someone of his calibre who can contribute heavily but also because of the mental effect of seeing him go.
Fortunately, Lee Johnson’s men have Bailey Wright who can come in and do a solid job at the back alongside a youngster in Doyle and this departure may also give West Ham United loanee Frederik Alves a chance to shine.
So it’s not all bad news, but a blow nonetheless if this departure isn’t handled in the right way. If he’s likely to leave, it may be worth Johnson bringing him out of the starting lineup soon to allow someone else to settle into the first 11.
Losing Tom Flanagan would be a blow for Sunderland considering that he has managed to show a lot of improvements for the Black Cats so far this term and he has been a crucial performer for them in the first few months of the campaign.
If a lot of Sunderland supporters would have been asked whether they would want to keep Flanagan last summer there might have been many who would not have been too bothered to see him go. However, those attitudes might have changed following his performances in the third tier for Lee Johnson’s side this term.
Having said that, Flanagan has not really been able to be a consistent performer for Sunderland in recent years and he has been prone to some errors that have cost the Black Cats in the last few seasons. Therefore, he is not a player that they can not replace and recouping some funds for him at this stage might not be the worst idea.