Having seen his Sunderland side get off to an impressive start to their 2021/22 League One campaign, winning their first two fixtures of the new season, Lee Johnson and his team were dealt a setback on Tuesday, with the Black Cats suffering defeat at the hands of Burton Albion.
However, the result was far from a disaster, with Sunderland’s performance still impressive despite the defeat – something which Johnson himself commented upon after the 1-0 loss, claiming that his side “had fantastic control” of the fixture, as well as stating his belief that if the match were to be played 100 times over, the Black Cats would win on 85 occasions.
Indeed, over the course of the 90 minutes at the Pirelli Stadium, the Wearsiders managed 20 shots on goal, seven of which were on target, as well as dominating possession of the ball and creating two big chances.
However, while it is easy to argue that Sunderland were the better of the two teams on the night, it cannot be ignored that the Mackems nevertheless failed to capitalise on their dominance, with a lack of quality in and around the box proving to be their downfall.
As such, it would appear wise for Johnson to freshen up his attacking lineup for the visit of AFC Wimbledon today, with one player in particular who has so far been overlooked in the league and could well be deserving of a shot in the starting XI – Josh Hawkes.
Indeed, following a highly impressive 2020/21 campaign with Sunderland’s under-23 side, scoring 13 goals and providing six assists over his 20 Premier League 2 appearances, the 22-year-old winger was given a chance in the Black Cats’ first team for the Carabao Cup clash with Port Vale last week – getting himself on the scoresheet in the 2-1 win.
However, despite having been an unused substitute in the club’s first two league fixtures of the season, Johnson then dropped Hawkes completely from his matchday squad for the Burton game, a rather strange move considering his impressive performance the previous week.
Also, considering the goalscoring and creative talent that Hawkes quite clearly possesses, the Sunderland boss simply must give the man he himself dubbed a “dangerous” player a shot against AFC Wimbledon, as the youngster could well solve the Black Cats’ troubles in front of goal.