Sunderland manager Jack Ross has hinted via The Chronicle that fringe man Reece James is set to play a pivotal role in the coming weeks, following a double blow for the League One high-flyers.
Well, after losing Denver Hume to injury – with Ross explaining via The Chronicle that the impressive youngster is set to be out for another six weeks – his deputy Bryan Oviedo picked up a straight red card in the 2-2 draw with Peterborough United at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night.
The Costa Rica international will now sit out the next three matches, and while it is bad news for the Wearside outfit and their fans, 36% of whom who voted on our poll believe their key first-team star is worth more than £15m, it is a different story for a summer addition.
The Black Cats brought James to the north east for free on a one-year deal after his contract with Wigan Athletic expired, and he would have hoped for some regular first-team football after choosing to remain in League One – although that hasn’t been the case.
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He has a huge opportunity – especially given the short length of his current contract.
Prior to coming on for the final 20 minutes against the Posh the 24-year-old had featured in just 190 minutes of League One football this term, with both Hume and Oviedo preferred ahead of him, and it seemed unlikely that his deal would be expired at the climax of the campaign.
However, the latest setbacks for Sunderland mean now that he has now gone from third-choice to first-choice in a matter of days, and he now has the chance to impress and stake his claim to remain in the starting XI even when Hume and Oviedo make their respective returns.
James has gone from being a fringe player to one that is going to be pivotal in the club’s promotion push in the coming weeks, as they look to make an instant return to the Championship.