With the news that defender and stand-in captain Danny Batth will miss the rest of the season through injury, Tony Mowbray has found himself short on fit defenders, especially in a central position. Youngster Joe Anderson, signed from Everton in January and has made only fleeting appearances from the bench is the Black Cats’ only fit-recognised central defender. Therefore, with the season drawing to a close, and players playing out-of-position Sunderland’s attack could be the best form of defence, especially as a playoff place is still possible.
Sunderland’s Attack Their Best Form of Defence as Season End Draws Close
Danny Batth Is the Latest to be Ruled Out for the Season
Central defender Danny Batth limped out of the draw with Huddersfield Town in midweek. The official Sunderland website safc.com issued a statement: Sunderland AFC can confirm that Danny Batth suffered a knee injury during Tuesday’s draw with Huddersfield Town.
“The centre-back will miss the remainder of the campaign after featuring 42 times in all competitions this season. Following a period of rehabilitation during the summer, Batth will return for the Club’s 2023-24 pre-season preparations in June. An incredible year – you’ll be back stronger, Danny!”
With Aji Alese out for the season, Dan Ballard set to be only used in an emergency following his own injury issues and Luke O’Nien potentially set to miss a game as he awaits the birth of his child, Mowbray has limited options.
Joe Anderson could make his first senior start and fullbacks Dennis Cirkin and Trai Hume could be asked to move into a central role.
Attack The Best Form of Defence for Sunderland?
With the injuries mounting, Tony Mowbray could be forced to go on an all-out attack approach to protect his inexperienced defence and score the goals that could see the Black Cats claim a playoff place.
Despite having limited choices regarding a central striker, Sunderland do have many players capable of scoring goals. On-loan striker Joe Gelhardt, who scored against Huddersfield is likely to lead the line against West Bromwich Albion on Sunday despite playing with a minor ankle injury of late. Wingers Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts plus Amad Diallo can score and create out of nothing. Alex Pritchard, Dan Neil and Edouard Michu are also capable of finding the net.
A Big Ask, but Not Impossible
Whatever happens in the last three games of the season, it should be considered a successful season for Sunderland following promotion from League One via the playoffs last year. With long-term injuries to key players throughout the campaign which continue as the season draws to a close, Sunderland are still in with a chance of reaching the Championship playoffs.
However, it’s a big ask of Mowbray’s young team but football can be very unpredictable and they have shown their determination and resilience to get into the position they are in. It’s a big ask but in no way impossible.
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