With Sunderland looking to get their League One campaign off to the best possible start at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon, Lee Johnson faces a number of tough calls regarding his team selection.
The 40-year-old will have something of a headache at left-back, with Denver Hume still having not put pen to paper on a new deal with the club – in addition to the 22-year-old having not recovered from injury – while one of Corry Evans, Carl Winchester and Elliot Embleton may miss out in central midfield.
The Black Cats boss will also have to decide which of Alex Pritchard, Aiden McGeady, Aiden O’Brien, Jack Diamond and Lynden Gooch will be most profitable in the wide attacking berths against potential promotion rivals Wigan Athletic.
However, following a rather remarkable season while on loan at Blackpool last term, it is Embleton who must start against the Latics, with the 22-year-old looking as if he possesses the ability to make a real difference within the Mackems’ midfield.
Indeed, over his 30 League One appearances for Neil Critchley’s side last season, the £4.3k-per-week man scored two goals, registered four assists and created one big chance for his teammates, as well as taking 1.7 shots and making 1.2 key passes per game.
These metrics saw the midfielder earn a seasonal SofaScore match rating of 6.90, ranking him as Blackpool’s 12th-best performer in League One as he played a key role in the Seasiders securing promotion to the Championship.
As such, with Johnson hoping to secure a promotion of his own with Sunderland this season, it would seem very advisable for the 40-year-old to place his trust in a player who was influential in helping another team achieve this feat a few months ago. The well-rounded Embleton could be a game-changer for the Black Cats this term – starting with the Wigan clash today.