Preview: Sunderland host Hull City
Written by Scott McGerty on 19th January 2018
Sunderland return to action on Saturday at home to Hull City with the Black Cats looking to return to winning ways in the Championship.
After a heavy 4-0 defeat away to Cardiff last weekend Chris Coleman will be hoping for a reaction from his squad against a Hull City side that sits perilously close to the drop zone and only three points clear of Sunderland.
Sunderland had hoped to add to their ranks this week following the acquisition of Jake Clarke-Salter on loan at the beginning of the month.
Clarke-Salter had a very assured debut against Cardiff despite the scoreline and Coleman has been impressed with the Chelsea youngster.
The manager told Chronicle Live: “A lot of people you bring in this month will come and won’t be match fit because they haven’t been playing. You can play in the under-23s if you like, but it’s not playing man’s football.
Jake hadn’t played for seven weeks, so he hadn’t played, but I saw a lot that I liked; a lot that I knew. We were disappointed with a couple of the goals and me and Jake have spoken about that this morning and he will only get better because of that.”
Coleman added: “He has a great attitude. He wants to be here, he wants to get better and he wants to learn. You want to be around characters like that.
What you don’t want is characters who don’t want to learn. I don’t care how old you are, you can always get better. If you have the right mentality, work hard and still enjoy your football there can be no excuses.”
Sunderland have been actively trying to bring several more players in during the transfer window but appear to have hit a wall in their pursuits of Ben Woodburn and Jonathan Walters.
Woodburn had been expected to join Sunderland on loan from Liverpool to team up with Coleman, the man who gave him his Wales senior debut, however Liverpool’s sale of Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona has meant Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is reluctant to loan Woodburn as he attempts to maintain his attacking depth.
Burnley’s Walters had also been heavily linked to Sunderland but unfortunately injury has ended any hope the Black Cats had of bringing the Republic of Ireland international to the Stadium of Light.
Walters has suffered a knee injury and last night posted a picture on social media indicating he required surgery.
Despite these blows Sunderland remain active in the transfer market and have reported interest in Derby County striker Chris Martin as they look to fill the void left by the departed Lewis Grabban and James Vaughan.
Coleman has elected to lead the line with Josh Maja in recent matches and has admitted he needs reinforcements to relieve the work load on his young striker.
He told the Sunderland Echo: “”We’ve got to look at that (up front). We’ve got two experienced players to replace and to help Josh. I don’t think we can do anymore than we’re doing to make something happen, we’re fully aware of the seriousness of it.”
Coleman has been handed a boost by the return to training of midfielder Jonny Williams who has been missing since November with a shoulder injury.
The Sunderland boss told the club website: “It’s a huge boost for us to have Jonny back in training. We’ve been badly lacking strength in depth over the past few weeks, but he was back in training today – not fully – and he was integrated back into the first team and he did most it.”
He added: “The good thing about a shoulder injury is that he’s been on his feet and doing lots of running, so it’s the contact that will be the real acid test – when he falls down or when he has a bit of contact with another player.
“Fingers crossed, though, because he’s ahead of schedule and we need his help, that’s for sure.”
Kick-off at the Stadium of Light is at 3pm on Saturday.