Position Primer: Right Back
Well the fixtures are out and the rumour mill is overloading, so here at Vital Sunderland we are going to preview each position, reviewing what players that the club already have and considering what Steve Bruce will need to buy.
Last time out, the goalkeeping situation at the Stadium of Light was analysed, now it`s time to look at the right backs.
Last summer, Roy Keane signed Pascal Chimbonda from Tottenham. At that point, he was seen as a huge upgrade over the incumbent first choice Phil Bardsley. However, Chimbonda`s move was so unsuccessful he was shipped off back to Spurs in January. It has to be said the his best game in a Sunderland shirt was in the middle of the defence too.
Phil Bardsley finished the season at right back, even captaining the side in some games. He`s solid but hardly spectacular, tough in the tackle, offers little going forward and frustrates many when he attempts a shot at goal from range when anything else would have been a better option. Bardsley is really a Championship standard player attempting to make the step up to the Premiership, but at times is solid nonetheless.
Nyron Nosworthy will be discussed when we look at the centre of the defence, but it is worth mentioning him here since he was a right back when he join the club. Despite being a cult hero in that first season, all in all he was poor. However, Roy Keane moved him into the middle of the defence and a new Nuggsy was born. What`s for certain is that if we begin next season with Nyron as our second choice right back, we will be in trouble.
Upon the arrival of Chimbonda, the future of Paul McShane seemed to be away from the Stadium of Light and a loan spell at Hull City followed. However, McShane was pretty decent for Hull and Ricky Sbragia elected to recall him in January. And with that move, McShane`s good run of form ended and he endured a pretty miserable second half of the season. Already linked with a return to Hull and a move to Roy Keane`s Ipswich, McShane`s future again looks to be away from Sunderland.
Another player who looks set to leave the Stadium of Light is Greg Halford. He spent last season at Sheffield United and it sounds like it was a successful spell. However, no Sunderland fan will be disappointed to see him leave the club in what was a disappointing move for all concerned, despite the hype that surrounded him when he joined the club.
In the youth ranks, Michael Kay is the closest to making the step up, even making an appearance in the FA Cup fourth round replay at Blackburn last season. However, if Kay will ever be considered to be close to making the grade, a loan move to a Championship club would be best for all concerned.
With Bardsley as the club`s top right back, Steve Bruce will need to go shopping. Bardsley would be an adequate back up but if Sunderland are going to progress next season, the defence requires improving.
So far this summer, the club has been linked with West Ham right back Lucas Neill. The Australia international has plenty of Premiership experience and would be a move in the right direction. Although Bruce has not been linked with Tottenham right back Alan Hutton, despite rumours of moves for many other Spurs players, he is certainly the type of player that would fit the bill and could leave the club as he is behind Vedran Corluka in the pecking order at White Hart Lane.
Next up: Left Back