Sunderland sit fifth in the League One table after 19 games played following their 1-1 draw with Oxford United at the weekend.
Lee Johnson’s side have games in hand over Wycombe and Plymouth above them and are two points off top of the table as it stands.
They host Morcambe at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night as they hope to move further up the division and closer to the automatic promotion spots.
Heading into the game, Johnson may begin to ponder potential changes to his starting XI. With fixtures coming thick and fast heading into the festive period, it could be worth making alterations and one player who should be brutally axed from the side after his performance against Oxford is central defender Bailey Wright.
The Australian international struggled at the weekend and could benefit from sitting on the bench and having the chance to recoup. He may just be in need of a rest in order to recharge and be 100% ready to go again in the next match.
As per SofaScore, he gave possession away a whopping 29 times from centre-back. He completed just 53% of his attempted passes, including three of his 15 long balls. This shows that he was abysmal with the ball at his feet and failed to play out of the back with efficiency as he continuously handed possession straight back to Oxford with his dreadful distribution.
Therefore, Johnson should allow him to rest up in midweek ahead of next weekend’s clash with Plymouth, offering another player an opportunity to come in and perform. Sunderland cannot afford to be so loose with their passing if they want to continue pushing up the table to achieve promotion and the head coach should not easily brush past Wright’s struggles on the deck.
The defender has shown that he has the quality to put in quality performances at this level, having previously been compared to Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk.
Black Cats legend Kevin Phillips previously said of him:
“He’s been a great signing. I don’t know the player, but I just get the feeling that he’s a leader and a voice in the dressing room.
“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.”
This is why resting the £13k-per-week dud for a game could be beneficial in the short and long term. If Johnson can get the player who Phillips believed to be important to the side in League One then it could be a boost to the squad, but the player who turned up against Oxford did not show those same qualities and that is why he must be brutally axed from the XI.