Sunderland are back on the road again this weekend, with an away clash against Cambridge United next up for Lee Johnson’s side after drawing 1-1 against Shrewsbury Town in midweek.
In terms of which players the Black Cats boss could choose to start at the Abbey Stadium, one man who featured in the majority of the game against Shrewsbury but should not be in the starting XI on this occasion is Aiden O’Brien.
After being an unused substitute for their 2-0 win over Ipswich Town, the 28-year-old failed to take his chance to impress Johnson in midweek and stake his claim for a place in the team this weekend.
Before being replaced by Corry Evans in the 62nd minute against the Shrews, O’Brien failed to prove himself as a useful attacking or defensive figure in the team.
Labelled by Johnson in the past as a “difficult” player to defend against, the winger failed to have even one clear shot at goal or attempt one cross or long ball on Tuesday, and he only completed one of the four dribble attempts that he made, as per SofaScore.
O’Brien, who is currently earning a wage of £6.5k-per-week according to Salary Sport, didn’t have much of an impact on the defensive side of things either, winning just one of his six duels and failing to make even one tackle or interception.
This performance earned the winger an uninspiring overall match rating of 6.3/10, making him the lowest-rated Sunderland starter on the night according to SofaScore, suggesting that he held the team back in terms of finding a win.
Furthermore, O’Brien has only scored one goal in his 10 league games so far this season, showing that he hasn’t been a consistent attacking outlet for Johnson to rely upon.
With all this in mind, perhaps taking the 28-year-old out of the team would be the best way for Sunderland to secure the three points this time against an off-form Cambridge side with just one win in their last six matches.