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Sunderland must unleash Bailey Wright for Reading clash

Sunderland have enjoyed a respectable start to the season after winning promotion to return to the Championship by beating Wycombe in the League One play-off final earlier this year.

Alex Neil started the campaign in charge of the Black Cats before leaving to join Stoke City, with Tony Mowbray coming in to replace the Scot.

After eight matches, they have three wins, two draws, and three defeats and they now have a chance to add a fourth win as they travel to face Reading away from home tonight.

They come into the game off the back of a 1-0 defeat away to Middlesbrough in their last outing, with Riley McGree scoring the only goal of the game.

One player who will not be able to retain his place in the starting XI from that match is centre-back Dennis Cirkin. The former Tottenham man, who is a natural left-back, suffered an injury last time out and is now set to be out of action until after the upcoming international break, with Mowbray recently confirming that they are eyeing the Preston game to bring him back in.

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Sunderland striker Ross Stewart in action

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This opens up a space in the back three and the manager must now unleash Bailey Wright from the start to play alongside Danny Batth and Luke O’Nien.

Roker Report writer Philip West previously claimed that he has the heart of a lion” and his strength at the back could make him a brilliant replacement for Cirkin. 

He has shown glimpses of the quality that he can offer the team in the Championship this season. The tank has won 82% of his aerial battles in his five substitute appearances for the Black Cats and he was a solid, reliable, performer for the club in League One last term.

Should Wright start?





Wright averaged a SofaScore rating of 6.88 in the third tier – a score higher than Cirkin’s 6.76 – as he won 65% of his duels and helped the team to keep 14 clean sheets in 40 outings.

This shows that the Australian international has the potential to perform to a higher standard than the injured Englishman, based on their respective performances in League One.

The £13k-per-week machine could be a rock at the back if he is able to slot in against Reading and win the majority of his battles throughout the game to keep the Royals at bay.

Wright being a right-footed player out on the left side of the defence is not ideal, considering Cirkin was able to play out on his natural foot in that position. However, if he keeps his passing to simple balls and concentrates on his defending then it could be fine for this match whilst they work to get the former Spurs man back, which is why Mowbray must unleash the ex-Bristol City enforcer against Reading.