Lee Johnson is looking to bolster his options at full-back by lining up a deal for Preston North End’s Joe Rafferty, according to Alan Nixon.
The Black Cats are lacking massively on both sides of the pitch thanks to the departures of several squad players such as Conor McLaughlin and Callum McFadzean, and Denver Hume is still yet to pen a new contract with his most recent one having expired in June.
And Rafferty has seemingly been turned to as a player of interest as he has Championship experience at playing at both right-back – which is his natural position – but also left-back.
The 27-year-old joined the Lilywhites in 2019 from Rochdale having spent all his professional career at Spotland, and he’s made 57 league appearances for PNE in two-and-a-half seasons.
Rafferty though has never really been a first-choice selection at Deepdale and may find himself battling for a place this season with new arrival Matthew Olosunde.
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Sunderland have managed to tie down Luke O’Nien to a new long-term contract but it remains to be seen whether his future lies at right-back or in midfield – if it’s the latter then Rafferty could be a guaranteed starter at the Stadium of Light.
Rafferty has never really quite convinced for North End – he’s had some good games but also some quite poor ones and the general consensus from PNE fans is that he isn’t quite Championship level.
The fact that he’s 27 as well means that he’s not going to improve at this stage of his career, and with North End bringing in a newer, younger right-back this summer his days are seemingly numbered.
It was his performances for Rochdale in League One though that saw PNE sign him in the first place, so a drop back down to the level could do him very well.
He wouldn’t necessarily be a poor signing for Sunderland as he could do fine in League One again, but there’s probably better, younger options out there who Lee Johnson could sign.