Sunderland head coach Lee Johnson has confirmed that he has added Jamie McCombe to his coaching staff ahead of the play-off semi-final clashes against Lincoln City.
And it bears more significance than a normal staff appointment as McCombe was on the Imps coaching staff until January 2020, working under Michael Appleton for four months before his departure.
Johnson has turned to his former Bristol City team-mate in the wake of his assistant Jamie McAllister being banned for six games after an altercation occurred in the Black Cats’ game against Oxford United last month.
If Sunderland get past the Imps and into the final of the play-offs, McAllister will be able to attend Wembley but he won’t be able to access the touchline, so McCombe’s stay at Sunderland could be extended.
Despite being on the coaching staff at Sincil Bank, not many of the squad that McCombe helped to coach remain at the club, with just six players remaining in Appleton’s ranks.
But he may be able to provide some sort of an edge on the opposition from his time at the club and if he can, it may be Johnson’s smartest move yet.
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Johnson obviously feels like he needs a bit more assistance going into the two biggest games of Sunderland’s season, and he may have made a shrewd move here.
Obviously Lincoln have a much-changed squad from last season so McCombe’s knowledge of the club and how Appleton works might not be of as much importance as some think, but he’ll probably know enough to perhaps give the Black Cats an edge.
And if Sunderland find success in the next three games and end up in the Championship, McCombe could be added to the staffing ranks for the long haul – this is merely a trial run it seems to see how things pan out.