With new faces through the doors at the Stadium of Light this summer, manager Lee Johnson already has a new-look midfield forming for the new campaign.
Pritchard to Add Attacking Threat
The arrival of former Tottenham midfielder Alex Pritchard will certainly give the Black Cats a creative boost in the middle of the park. Sunderland, who are 7/1 in the football betting to win the League One title this season, were held to more draws than any other side in the division last term. On no less than 17 occasions Sunderland played out stalemates in League One, and Pritchard might be able to make that difference in midfield to turn those draws into valuable wins.
Having spent three-and-a-half years at Huddersfield Town through their last season in the Premier League and campaigns in the Championship, Pritchard is not short on experience. At 28 years old, the former Norwich City man has plenty of seasons ahead of him and could be a real coup for Sunderland after signing a two-year deal in the North East.
Evans Can Add Steel to Sunderland
Northern Ireland international Corry Evans could prove to be another astute signing for Johnson, after agreeing to a two-year deal with the option of a further 12 months. The Manchester United Academy product has played at centre-back at times through his career but was largely used in midfield during his eight-year spell with Blackburn Rovers.
Having put his injury woes of a few years ago behind him, Evans is now ready for a new challenge with the Black Cats. The Belfast-born midfielder, who has 66 caps for his country and is the younger brother of former Sunderland defender Jonny Evans, says he knows the season ahead in League One won’t be easy, and consistency will be key for a successful campaign.
Talent Coming Through
While Johnson has looked to bring in two experienced heads in midfield, there have been promising signs from fresher faces in pre-season. Dan Neil has caught the eye with his performances and could be ready to work his way into Johnson’s plans for the new campaign. The player was expected to go out on loan last term but ended up staying on Wearside, and now has an opportunity at the Stadium of Light ahead of him.
Former Bristol City boss Johnson has stated Neil will be given time to impress before Christmas and then a decision will be made on his future for the remainder of the season. This will be Sunderland’s fourth campaign in the third tier of English football but perhaps the arrivals of Pritchard, Evans and the emergence of Neil can be the catalyst to finally securing promotion back to the Championship.