Sunderland have nine games remaining to make or break their season and it is understandable that Phil Parkinson has looked to minimise risk in light of that.
His team selections reflect a manager who is unwilling to make changes to his side, only drafting in two-goal Kyle Lafferty on Saturday due to Charlie Wyke being unavailable through injury.
However, fatigue may have set in against Gillingham after the visitors equalised in the dying seconds, and given the lapse in concentration at the back it is clear to see where improvement is most needed.
Fans have been highly critical of 21-year-old Denver Hume over the last few games, and it is true that he has declined in certain aspects of his game.
Although the left wing-back managed an assist against the Gills, he had failed to achieve a WhoScored rating above 7 in the nine games prior despite the Black Cats losing just two of those matches, and in Declan John Sunderland have signed a player with Championship experience looking to impress.
John’s contract is up at the end of the season and it is strange that Parkinson hasn’t played him since his arrival, so he deserves a chance to prove himself. There could be other changes to the defence, too.
Phil Parkinson has transformed the defence since coming in, and at one point the north-east outfit had conceded just two goals in nine games – up until the Fleetwood match two weeks ago.
Gillingham’s two goals were very preventable, as was the Sky Blues’ the week prior with Matt Godden being left untracked through the middle, and that raises some doubt about Tom Flanagan.
Lynch came on last weekend and couldn’t prevent the equaliser but he is experienced and has featured consistently under Parkinson, so could make all the difference against the Gas.
In other Sunderland news, the club has provided an important update regarding a player who was missing against Coventry…