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Opinion: Lee Johnson must address problem position at Sunderland in January amid injury crisis

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Following a slump in form which resulted in the club suffering three defeats on the bounce in League One, Sunderland managed to get back on track on Saturday as they secured a morale-boosting victory over Ipswich Town.

Having featured predominantly as a central-midfielder for the Black Cats this season, Luke O’Nien was selected to start at left-back in this particular fixture in the absence of Dennis Cirkin.

The 27-year-old went on to produce an assured performance for Sunderland at the Stadium of Light as he opened the scoring in the closing stages of the game.

Aiden McGeady then netted a penalty in stoppage-time to seal all three points for the Black Cats.

Despite recording an impressive WhoScored match rating of 8.25 in this fixture, O’Nien will be keen to resume his role in the heart of midfield as he has been able to make a superb impact in this position this season.

However, the former Wycombe Wanderers is likely to line up at left-back over the Christmas period due to the fact that Sunderland are currently incredibly short of options in this position.

Cirkin is set to be out until the New Year after sustaining a hernia problem whilst Denver Hume is also currently being forced to watch on from the sidelines due to an ankle injury.

Whilst Niall Huggins is capable of filling the void at left-back, he is also not expected to make his return to action until 2022 as he is currently recovering from a back injury.

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Newcastle - St. James' Park?

With the transfer window set to open in January, Johnson simply has to consider the possibility of drafting in a new full-back as there is no guarantee that O’Nien will be able to maintain his fitness as he is currently having to deal with an ongoing issue with his shoulder.

Although it would be naive to suggest that Sunderland should be looking to sign a left-back on a permanent basis due to the fact that Cirkin, Huggins and Hume are all expected to feature again this season, they may find it beneficial to draft in a player on a temporary basis.

By securing the services of an individual who has featured at this level during his career, the Black Cats could maintain their push for a top-six finish in the absence of the aforementioned trio.

Cirkin, Huggins and Hume will also be forced to step up their performance levels due to the arrival of a new left-back which could in turn have a positive impact on the club’s fortunes in League One.


Freelance writer for Football League World. Previously worked for 90min & GiveMeSport.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Opinion: Lee Johnson must address problem position at Sunderland in January amid injury crisis

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