Sunderland had one task that stood tall above the others during the winter transfer market; find a left-back.
It was Kristjaan Speakman’s biggest priority as he embarked on his first window in charge of their recruitment.
Unfortunately, it didn’t really pay off. The Mackems were linked with a number of left-backs, including Wimbledon defender Paul Osew.
They ultimately ended up with Jake Vokins, landing the young full-back on a loan deal from Southampton.
On paper this looked like a wise move. Vokins had played against Arsenal in the Premier League just a matter of days before penning terms in the north-east.
Things haven’t worked out for the Saints defender since signing though, enduring a horrendous debut that was described as one of the worst in the club’s history. His game time has since been halted by the ongoing pandemic and a worrying heart problem.
Though, on the field of play, it’s Callum McFadzean who has been left to take the majority of criticism.
He has been the mainstay at left-back while Denver Hume recovers from injury and it’s safe to say he’s been well below par.
The 27-year-old has been caught out on a number of occasions this term and has been left stranded by a whole host of wingers and flying full-backs.
McFadzean was given the run around by Otis Khan in the EFL Trophy final as the Tranmere defender completed four dribbles.
The Mackems full-back was led a “merry dance” by Olamide Shodipo against Oxford United and was again terrorised by Mallik Wilks in the draw with Hull City this week.
Wilks beat him on countless occasions, providing two assists for the Tigers’ goals. With that in mind, a left-back should be near the top of Sunderland’s agenda again this summer.
Back in January, the Black Cats were touted with a switch for young Hibernian talent Josh Doig.
The defender is just 18 but has caught the eye of not only the lower leagues but also the likes of Leeds and Manchester City.
Luring him to the Stadium of Light, therefore, would be quite the accomplishment but it’s something they have to do.
Doig is very adept going forward and has contributed to four goals in the Scottish Premiership this season. Crucial, though, are his defensive attributes.
It might not mean much to Sunderland supporters but Doig comes with a glowing recommendation from a certain Jack Ross too: “He has been brilliant this season for a young man who has just turned 18,” the Hibs boss said.
With a high ceiling and plenty of potential, the Scottish defender definitely seems like a better option than McFadzean. The Black Cats must try their best to prise him away.