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‘Something of a risk’ – Bristol City hoping to pinch Lee Johnson favourite from Sunderland: The verdict

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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…

Bristol City are one of three Championship teams interested in Sunderland defender Tom Flanagan, according to Football Insider. 

The 30-year-old has emerged as a trusted part of Lee Johnson’s side this term but is out of contract in the summer, with City, Middlesbrough, and Preston North End understood to be keen.

But would he be a good signing for the Robins? And do they need him?

Our FLW writers share their thoughts…

Josh Cole

When you consider that Bristol City have only managed to keep a clean sheet in one of their 17 league games this season, it is abundantly clear that the club need to bolster their defensive options in January.

However, it could be argued that the Robins ought to steer clear of taking a risk on Sunderland defender Tom Flanagan after recently being linked with a move for the centre-back.

Although Flanagan is currently averaging a respectable WhoScored match rating of 6.94 in League One, it may take him some time to adapt to life in the Championship as he hasn’t featured at this level since 2018.

In order to push on in the second-tier, the Robins ought to be looking into the possibility of drafting in a defender who has recently showcased his talent in this particular division instead of signing Flanagan.

Adam Jones

It’s the sort of signing they should be aiming for in their financial situation.

Whilst they don’t seem to be in danger by any means, it does seem as though there will only be a very limited budget at Ashton Gate for the foreseeable future and this is a deal they could conclude for free next summer.

Another player who came to City from League One in Rob Atkinson has proved to be a key player for Nigel Pearson’s men this term, although they do need to be wary of the lack of Championship experience the duo have if they start together in a back four together.

It does feel as though they need a Tomas Kalas or Nathan Baker-esque figure alongside the less experienced option, although after keeping just one clean sheet this term, it does feel as though the second-tier side need a shake-up in defence.

And with Flanagan raising his performance levels this term, he could be a good option to have in there, even with the Black Cats’ shaky defence recently.

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Jordan Rushworth

This would be an interesting signing for Bristol City to make because there is no doubt that Tom Flanagan has shown a lot of improvements in his performances for Sunderland so far this season. That has seen him establish himself as a crucial part of the Black Cats’ backline and he has been defending very well with him winning an average of seven duels per game.

Bristol City have at times this season struggled at the back with them shipping 27 goals in their opening 17 league matches and that is something that they are going to have to address if they are to get their form back on track after suffering five defeats in their last six.

Therefore, considering that the club’s CEO has just recently stated that they will be eyeing up signings in January, Bristol City could potentially aim to bolster their backline and a move for Flanagan might help to do that if he maintained the form he has shown with Sunderland this term.

However, Flanagan has at times struggled in recent years at Sunderland and he does go through periods where he makes mistakes at the back. That means it would be something of a risk for Bristol City to expect him to make the step up to the Championship and make an immediate impact for them.


London-based sports journalist at Snack Media EFL accredited, graduate of New Associates and the University of Brighton

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: ‘Something of a risk’ – Bristol City hoping to pinch Lee Johnson favourite from Sunderland: The verdict

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