Sunderland host Charlton Athletic at the Stadium of Light on Saturday as they look to move back to the top of the League One table.
The Black Cats are currently second, one point behind Plymouth – who have played two more games – with nine wins after 12 matches. They face an Addicks side who recently sacked manager Nigel Adkins and are 22nd in the table.
Lee Johnson’s men beat Crewe Alexandra 4-0 earlier in the week in a comprehensive win, but one change the Sunderland boss could make comes at left-back.
Dennis Cirkin started on the left of the back four and endured a difficult night on a personal note despite the impressive nature of the team’s performance. He was hauled off after 65 minutes as he failed to put in a solid display in defence.
The summer signing from Tottenham was poor at both ends of the pitch. Defensively, he was a lightweight for the Black Cats. As per SofaScore, he lost 100% of his duels and was unable to complete a single tackle, interception or block, whilst he made just one clearance. This suggests that he was not strong enough to compete with Crewe’s players on a physical level.
He did not fare much better on the ball. As per SofaScore, he completed a measly 62% of his attempted passes and did not pull off a single cross, long pass or dribble in the entire match. He also lost possession 10 times from 36 touches as he ended the game without providing a single chance for a teammate or attempting a shot at goal. Cirkin did not showcase his strength or his technical ability in the game, which could be why he was substituted in the second half.
Therefore, it could be time for Denver Hume to be handed his first league start of the campaign. He started 20 games in the third tier for Sunderland last season and averaged a solid SofaScore rating of 6.94. The full-back won 61% of his duels and created 1.3 chances per game, suggesting that he could come in and offer an improvement at both ends of the pitch, judging by Cirkin’s display against Crewe.
Johnson must axe the 19-year-old from the team and allow Hume the opportunity to stake a claim for a regular spot in the starting XI. If the Wearside academy product can put in an excellent showing, it could see him keep his place in the side for the foreseeable future, or else it could motivate Cirkin to up his game and win back his starting berth if he is dropped for the visit of Charlton today.