Sunderland have failed to produce another great escape in the Premier League this season and are heading for their first campaign in the Sky Bet Championship for a decade.
David Moyes has confirmed he will lead the Black Cats in their hunt for a top-flight return, and the former Everton and Manchester United boss will have to make significant changes to his playing squad, with many at the Stadium of Light not up to scratch.
One player with plenty of Championship experience that could strengthen Moyes’ squad is Aston Villa’s Tommy Elphick, who could potentially be heading for the Villa Park exit door in the coming months.
Elphick was a £3m signing last summer with the hope that he could inspire Villa to promotion from the Championship, but with managerial uncertainties at Villa Park during the early stages of the season, the 29-year old struggled to make a significant impact.
Since Steve Bruce’s arrival as manager in October, Nathan Baker and James Chester have been the preferred partnership in central defence, with the Birmingham Mail questioning how much Elphick will be involved at Villa Park next season.
Having made just 26 appearances across all competitions this term, Elphick could find himself on the move and Sunderland should turn to him to bring some much-needed Championship experience to their squad.
Sunderland’s defence is not the worst in the Premier League, despite them sitting bottom of the table, but they have still conceded a mammoth 60 goals this season, with a level of defending that will not make the grade even in the Championship.
The addition of Elphick, whose performances this season were uncharacteristic, could seriously help Moyes’ Sunderland break their fall into the Championship and help steady a vulnerable defensive unit.