Sunderland are firmly back in the hunt for promotion with Lee Johnson’s appointment as manager sparking a magnificent revival.
Gone are the days of the boring football that Phil Parkinson brought to the Stadium of Light, and as a result, there is now a swagger to the Mackems’ attacking play. Aiden McGeady’s ten assists in 14 matches is enough to testify that.
McGeady has been superb on the left-hand side in recent months but he’s been let down time and time again by the man playing behind him.
Since Denver Hume was injured back in early December, the Black Cats have had difficulties when it’s come to the left-back position.
They tried to eradicate those worries by signing Jake Vokins in January but he’s not had an encouraging start to life in the north-east. In fact, the Southampton loanee has been pretty disastrous.
He had what Sunderland blog Roker Report described as one of the worst debuts in a Sunderland shirt before he was at fault for one of the goals in the defeat to Shrewsbury. Vokins failed to track his man at the back post which allowed for a simple tap in.
With that in mind, it doesn’t seem as though there is an easy solution to their woes.
Johnson brought McFadzean back into the fray following his bout with concussion last weekend but as he has been in recent months, was relatively disappointing.
He was largely anonymous down the left, completing just 70% of his passes and losing the ball on 23 occasions. Those were the worst tallies for both statistics of anyone in the red and white of Sunderland.
Offensively he was particularly poor, failing to pick a teammate out with any of his three crosses. Though, we should hardly be surprised by this performance. He gave away a penalty against Wimbledon and then let both of the goals in the defeat to Plymouth come down his side.
The warning signs were there for Johnson but he continues to pick him. Thus, the £2.4k-per-week earner has to be axed from the starting XI.
If Johnson operates with a three-man defence – something he did against Burton and Fleetwood – it would allow them to play Jordan Jones.
The Rangers loanee has started only twice since signing for the club in January but from the small glimpses we’ve seen, he’s been lively.
One of Jones’ best performances came from left wing back when he was introduced against the Brewers. The winger was on the field for just 23 minutes but created three key passes – the second-highest number of anyone in a Black Cats jersey. Jones also finished the clash with a pass success rate of 100%.
Blessed with real pace and creativity, he could conjure quite the partnership alongside McGeady on the left.
With a clash against 11th-placed Crewe to come on Saturday, Jones simply has to play. McFadzean has been letting his team down and there is only so long that Johnson can withstand his inconsistent displays.