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Sunderland can form dream duo with Will Smallbone and Luke O’Nien

Sunderland recently added to their Championship squad with the signing of Daniel Ballard in the summer transfer window.

The central defender has joined on a permanent deal from Arsenal to bolster the squad, with Kristjaan Speakman landing Alex Neil a replacement for Callum Doyle – who has now returned back to Manchester City after his loan spell on Wearside.

Ballard may not be the last player to come through the door as the Black Cats have over a month left to do business before the window slams shut.

One player who has been linked with a move to the Stadium of Light is Southampton central midfielder Will Smallbone. He is being eyed up for a potential loan to the club as the Saints weigh up whether or not to allow him to leave on a temporary basis.

The £6k-per-week gem has been described by Ralph Hasenhuttl as a “smart” player and a “hero” for Ireland’s U21s by journalist Mark McCadden.

Should Sunderland sign Smallbone?

Yes!

Yes!

No!

No!

His boss at international level, Jim Crawford, previously heaped praise on him, saying: “He’s been excellent. He’s a great individual. He can go anywhere, he’s got a real strong mindset and a real desire.”

These comments suggest that he is a promising young player, at the age of 22, and he can now form half of a dream midfield pairing for Sunderland alongside Luke O’Nien.

The maestro has 16 games of Premier League experience under his belt and caught the eye in his debut campaign, averaging a SofaScore rating of 6.80 across nine outings in 2019/20 – assisting two goals.

He offered a glimpse of what he is capable of last term as he created two chances in 13 minutes against Chelsea in the League Cup. At youth team level, he produced 13 goals and 13 assists for the U18s and 23s combined – showing that he is a midfielder who can make a big impact in the final third.

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Sunderland striker Ross Stewart in action

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O’Nien, meanwhile, averaged a SofaScore rating of 7.02 in League One as he made 3.0 tackles and interceptions per game and won 63% of his individual duels.

The former Wycombe man is a disruptor in the middle of the park and can complement Smallbone’s creativity, allowing the Southampton man to work his magic on the ball by screening the defence and working hard out of possession.

They would, therefore, be the dream pairing as one would be tasked with the bulk of the defensive play and the other would run at the attack on the ball.

AND in other news, Offer expected: SAFC plotting bid to sign “fearless” gem, he’d be a huge Evans upgrade…

Article title: Sunderland can form dream duo with Will Smallbone and Luke O’Nien

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