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Sunderland should ditch World Cup outcast Bailey Wright

Bailey Wright may be one of just two Sunderland players at the World Cup but the experienced defender could soon be surplus to requirements at the Stadium of Light.

The 30-year-old joins Costa Rica’s Jewison Bennette in Qatar as the Sunderland players on show but is yet to play a single minute for Australia in their two group games so far.

The former Preston North End man played a huge part in the Black Cats finally achieving promotion back to the Championship last season but has been a peripheral figure for much of the Championship campaign thus far, and has struggled on his rare appearances in the first team.

Wright has started just four games for Tony Mowbray’s side in the second tier this term, all of which came in the four games leading up to the World Cup break.

His performances have seen him average a disappointing 6.45 rating from WhoScored, which ranks him as the 15th-best performer at the Stadium of Light so far this campaign.

This emphasises how much he has struggled and with the likes of Ajibola Alese, Luke O’Nien, Dennis Cirkin and Danny Batth all outperforming him according to WhoScored, he arguably needs dropping from the starting side.

Is Wright surplus to requirements?

Yes

Yes

No

No

Dominic Ballard is also set to return from injury after the World Cup, which could push Wright even further down the pecking order in Mowbray’s thinking, so it might be best just to sell the centre-back in January, rather than potentially losing him for nothing when his contract expires in 2024.

Since joining on a permanent deal in 2020, the Australia international has gone on to make 102 appearances for the Black Cats, scoring four goals and assisting one, but his lack of game time so far this campaign suggests that his Sunderland career could soon be over.

After some strong performances two years ago, Kevin Phillips likened the defender to Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk, saying:

“Sometimes the manager can only say so much and then you want of your senior experience players to pipe up and put a few people in their place and give encouragement and be a leader. He seems like that.

“The stats just show what an important player he is. He’s almost to Sunderland what van Dijk is to Liverpool at the moment with those incredible stats.

“It’s important he stays fit throughout the season.”

However, much like the struggling Dutch defender, his form has declined this season and with Ballard returning from injury, Mowbray might be best moving Wright on in the January window.