As the days pass by, life on the pitch is becoming increasingly bleak for Sunderland.
On New Year’s Eve they were left disappointed that yet another game was going to be postponed. Every fixture over the festive period has now been pushed back to a later date and any hope of playing against Fleetwood next week has been evaporated. For now, their match with Northampton is thankfully still on.
It’s becoming a tiring process for those at Sunderland with the fear of fixture congestion later in the season swiftly becoming a reality.
Consequently, the Black Cats will need to reach deep within their ranks and utilise the whole squad. That could mean game time for more of the club’s academy crop – a part of the football club that Jack Diamond and Elliot Embleton have progressed away from this term.
One player who will be keen to do the same in the immediate future is left-sided player Cieran Dunne.
The Scot, who learnt his trade at Falkirk, joined the Stadium of Light in the summer of 2019 but hasn’t had a glimpse of much first-team football. Dunne made his debut for the senior side in the EFL Trophy earlier this campaign but after playing just five minutes had to be withdrawn through injury.
Capable of playing as a winger or at left-back, his versatility is a huge asset and he simply has to be considered in the defence. Denver Hume is out injured at the moment and Callum McFadzean was anything but competent against Wimbledon, conceding a penalty.
Thus, it can’t be too long before Dunne gets a chance to prove himself to Lee Johnson. He has had mixed results at U23 level this term and was torn apart by former Sunderland academy product Sam Greenwood.
The forward is now at Leeds and scored a hat-trick past a hapless Dunne and the rest of his defence in a 3-1 defeat.
However, that was a mere blemish in Dunne’s copybook. The fact of the matter is that he has immense potential and has contributed positively to an ever-improving Mackems academy.
They failed to win a single match last season but in 2020/21, they have been victorious in five outings. A big part of that is down to the consistency of the 20-year-old.
More crucially, though, is the fact he possesses plenty of pace. Johnson has made it clear he wants players capable of stretching the play and if Dunne is given license further forward, he could do exactly that.
He’s certainly one to watch.