Sunderland Team Guide: Black Cats set for survival again

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Team Name: Sunderland

Manager: Gus Poyet

Last Season: 14th

Who they’ve signed so far: Jack Rodwell (Manchester City, £10m), Patrick van Aanholt (Chelsea, Undisclosed), Jordi Gómez (Wigan Athletic, free), Billy Jones (West Bromwich Albion, free), Costel Pantilimon (Manchester City, free).

Out of the exit door:  Ignacio Scocco (Newell’s Old Boys, £2.1m), Phil Bardsley (Stoke City), Jack Colback (Newcastle United), Craig Gardner (West Bromwich Albion), Billy Knott (Bradford City), John Egan (Gillingham), Kieren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Louis Laing (Nottingham Forest), Reece Noble (Durham City), Jordan Pickford (Bradford City, Loan), Carlos Cuéllar, Andrea Dossena, Jordan Laidler, Alejandro Rodriguez Gorrin, Oscar Ustari, David Vaughan, Jordan Watson (all released).

Star Man: Steven Fletcher

With doubts surrounding Connor Wickham’s future at the Stadium of Light, Steven Fletcher could once again find himself the main man for the Black Cats this season.

Wickham finished the season leading the line for Poyet but after an excellent pre-season, in which he has scored three goals, Fletcher is back in his manager’s plans.

The Scot showed everyone the quality he possesses during his first season at Sunderland, scoring 11 goals in 28 appearances but injury scuppered his chances to build on his debut campaign last year.

But with a good rest and a full pre-season behind him the 27-year-old will be back in the goals once again.

Under the Radar: Jack Rodwell

We all know the name but after two years in the wilderness at Manchester City we’ll get to see Jack Rodwell the player once again.

After just 16 starts in two seasons at the Etihad and a wave of injury problems the former Everton midfielder’s career stalled but he is looking to rediscover his potential at the Stadium of Light following his £10m move.

There is no doubting the 23-year-old’s talent but he will have to put his injury concerns behind him and stay fit to prove he still has what it takes to be a success at the highest level.

If he can he will be a huge addition to the Black Cats midfield and with some solid performances for Gus Poyet’s men he could soon be knocking on the door for England duty once again.

RodwellSticker

Team Liability: Lee Cattermole

Frozen out during the reign of Paolo Di Canio, Lee Cattermole has worked his way back to becoming a key player for Sunderland under Poyet which makes it all the more frustrating when he launches into one of his horror challenges.

‘Clattermole’ has already picked up seven Premier League red cards during his career and the 26-year-old averages a red card near enough every 26 games.

Last season the former Middlesbrough man got given his marching orders for a terrible challenge on Ahmed Elmohamady as Hull went on to win the game and the Stadium of Light faithful will be hoping he keeps his cool this season.

Title Odds: 5,000/1

Best Bet:  Sunderland Top North East club @ 5/2

Our Verdict:

It’s been a quiet summer for the Mackems so far but manager Poyet is desperate to bring in some new arrivals before the transfer window closes.

Sunderland survived by the skin of their teeth last season but without the hindrance of Paolo Di Canio this time around, Poyet’s charges can make a better fist of the league.

With other teams around them strengthening it could prove to be another long season for Sunderland but Rodwell and Jordi Gomez are excellent additions to a squad that should retain its Premier League status.

If the Uruguayan boss can bring in more firepower before August 31 the Black Cats could yet creep up the table and challenge Newcastle for top spot in the North East.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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