Following Sunderland’s demise in the play-off semi-finals on Saturday, Lee Johnson will now be turning his attention to building a team capable of going on to secure promotion from League One next season.
With a large number of the Black Cats’ first team playing squad being out of contract this summer – including the likes of Lee Burge, Luke O’Nien, Conor McLaughlin, Denver Hume, Callum McFadzean, Max Power, Grant Leadbitter, Chris Maguire, Aiden McGeady and Charlie Wyke – Johnson and Kristjaan Speakman appear to have a busy transfer window ahead of them in rebuilding the Sunderland squad.
However, one player who it would seem essential for the pair to bring back to the Stadium of Light prior to next season is not mentioned above – Rangers loanee Jordan Jones.
Having joined Sunderland on a temporary deal back in January, the 26-year-old winger impressed over his 20 League One appearances for Johnson’s side, scoring three goals, registering four assists and creating two big chances for his teammates.
Furthermore, Jones also took an average of 1.6 shots and made 1.9 key passes per game, with these metrics culminating in a seasonal SofaScore match rating of 7.08 – ranking him as the club’s fifth-best performer in the third tier.
With it being reported back in February that Jones would be keen on a switch to England permanently this summer, as well as Rangers thought to be willing to discuss a deal regarding the winger for a fee of around £600,000, the door would very much appear to be wide open for Johnson to make a move for the Northern Ireland international.
However, whether or not Sunderland’s failure to secure promotion to the Championship has an impact on Jones’ decision over a return to the Stadium of Light remains unclear at present, but this should not stop the Black Cats doing all they can to secure the services of one of their stand out players this season – one whom Kris Boyd claimed is a “nightmare” for defenders to play against.