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…
Sunderland are eyeing up a loan move for experienced Preston North End full-back Joe Rafferty, according to Alan Nixon.
The 27-year-old has spent two-and-a-half years at Deepdale after signing from Rochdale in 2019 and made 22 appearances last season before his season was cut short by injury.
A former Liverpool academy player, Rafferty has shown his versatility by being able to play in both his natural position at right-back and also at left-back, with Sunderland needing to strengthen both positions this summer.
Would Rafferty be a good signing for the Black Cats though? We asked the FLW team for their thoughts.
This would be a good signing for Sunderland.
They need another full-back option and Rafferty’s versatility and experience makes him the ideal fit for Lee Johnson’s side. He is capable of playing down either flank and has experience in the Championship so he would be more than able to do well in the third tier.
This isn’t the sort of signing that’s going to really excite the fans but Rafferty would be a very sensible addition and he would be someone who could play a key role as the team look to win promotion.
So, Sunderland should try to get this sorted ASAP as it would give Johnson a reliable player for full-back ahead of the new season.
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This could be a very smart signing for Sunderland to make this summer with Rafferty a very able defender that would be able to offer a lot for them in the English third tier if he leaves Preston.
The 27-year-old is predominantly a right-back but he can also operate down the other side of the field as he has done at times at Deepdale. The defender is someone that does not always stand out but he is often a reliable presence and he can be trusted to give his all.
Rafferty has not always been first-choice at Preston and therefore he might favour a move to Sunderland where he could potentially be more involved in their strongest possible line-up. The 27-year-old was a very strong performer for Rochdale in the third tier prior to sealing a move to Preston.
Whilst it would not be the most exciting signing on paper, I think that Rafferty would be perfectly suited to what Sunderland need at the moment.
Having watched a lot of Rafferty over the last two-and-a-half seasons, I don’t really think he’s good enough to be a starter week in, week out in the Championship so it wouldn’t surprise me if PNE are happy to sanction a sale or loan.
I would say that the top half of League One is more his level so in that case he would be a decent enough signing for Sunderland, but it depends if he’s going to be an undisputed first choice or not.
The only full-back option that Lee Johnson has right now is Luke O’Nien, and it remains to be seen if he is seen as a right-back or central midfielder this season, so strengthening is clearly required at both full-back positions.
There’s no harm in doing a loan deal for Rafferty to see how he fares for the Black Cats – it wouldn’t be an exciting signing but he brings experience in the league above and that could be crucial.