Sunderland will look to return to winning ways in the Championship on Saturday when they host Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United at the Stadium of Light.
Simon Grayson’s men made a solid start to the new season with one win and two draws from their opening three matches, yet successive defeats against Leeds United and Barnsley have left the Black Cats 19th in the table.
And that 3-0 drubbing at Oakwell just prior to the international break will have given former Preston boss Grayson much to ponder during the fortnight’s interruption, and he’ll likely be looking forward to getting back onto the pitch on Saturday when Sheffield United visit the North East.
The international break also brought about the end of the transfer window, and Grayson was busy on the final day and brought in three new faces, namely Callum McManaman, Jonny Williams, and Marc Wilson.
All three will seek to make their debuts against the Blades this weekend, and one man in particular is someone to keep an eye on over the coming weeks, namely midfielder Williams.
The 23-year-old has joined Sunderland on loan for the entirety of the season from Premier League side Crystal Palace, yet has made just 12 top-flight appearances for the Eagles in the last three seasons, with injuries blighting his progress.
However, the Wales international has shown signs of recovery with decent loan spells at MK Dons and Ipswich Town in recent times, and if he were to continue that upward curve at the Stadium of Light this season, his addition could turn out to be their signing of the summer.
Williams may only have played eight times for Mick McCarthy’s Tractor Boys last term, with injury again stunting his progress, but there were signs in those brief appearances that he was slowly but surely getting back to the level that made everyone sit up and take note a few years ago.
The 23-year-old is remarkably good on the ball and reads the game incredibly well, and clearly has bags of potential which is just waiting to be fulfilled should his injury struggles begin to subside.
And after a summer in which Williams has himself said he has worked hard to get back to full fitness, Sunderland could seriously reap the rewards from such acquisition.
The Black Cats were hopeless going forward in the Premier League last season and have only bagged five times in the Championship thus far, with their tally of 47 chances created leaving them 13th in that particular table as well.
Clearly, they will significantly benefit from a fully fit and firing Williams, whose versatility as either a central midfielder, wide man, or centre forward gives him ample opportunities to affect the play and create goal-scoring chances, and indeed thus help Sunderland get the goals to win matches.
Williams’ talent is unquestionable – it’s just a case of staying fit for a prolonged period of time which will see him reach that potential.
And if he can, it could turn out to be the best bit of business Sunderland conducted during the summer.