While things seem as if they have been starting to click under the leadership of Bruno Lage in recent weeks, with Wolverhampton Wanderers picking up 12 points from a possible 15 over their last five fixtures, the 45-year-old manager nevertheless faces something of a major problem within his Wolves squad.
Indeed, the long-term injury recently suffered by £4.68m summer signing Yerson Mosquera has left Lage with just four fit centre-backs to make up his defensive trio, a number which could be further depleted in January, with both Willy Boly and Romain Saiss likely to be unavailable due to their potential involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations.
As such, much has been discussed regarding Wolves’ need to bring in a new player in the position during the winter transfer window, however, the Portuguese boss could already possess a solution to his centre-back conundrum – in the shape of Dion Sanderson.
While it is true that the 21-year-old defender is not currently at the club, having been sent to Birmingham City on a season-long loan deal this summer, it would appear likely that Wolves could cancel the centre-back’s temporary spell at St Andrew’s early, should they so wish.
And, considering just how impressive the defender has been for the Blues so far this term, in addition to enjoying an extremely successful spell while on loan at Sunderland last season, recalling the £135k-rated man in January would appear to be a very smart move by Lage.
Indeed, over his four Championship appearances for Lee Bowyer’s side, the centre-back has helped his team keep one clean sheet and has created one big chance, as well as making an average of 0.8 interceptions, 1.8 tackles, 5.5 clearances and winning 3.5 duels per game.
Furthermore, as mentioned previously, Sanderson also impressed over his 26 appearances for Sunderland last season, helping the Black Cats keep eight clean sheets, scoring one goal and creating one big chance for his teammates, in addition to making an average of 0.9 interceptions, one tackle, 2.7 clearances and winning 4.3 duels per fixture.
These metrics saw the 21-year-old earn a seasonal SofaScore match rating of 6.92, ranking him as Johnson’s 13th-best player in the third tier of English football – as well as seeing him win the club’s Supporters Young Player of the Year award.
As such, with Lage surely already considering ways to navigate his side away from a potential centre-back selection crisis, the 45-year-old should consider welcoming Sanderson back to Molineux before dipping into the transfer market in January, as the defender certainly has the ability to help to ease what is undoubtedly Wolves’ biggest issue at present.