Sunderland full-back on Dick Advocaat’s attacking challenge

Billy Jones
Billy Jones
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BILLY JONES realises the dual responsibility he has as Sunderland’s flying full-back.

Summer signing Jones has been preferred to fellow right-back Anthony Reveillere for each of Sunderland’s last four games, with head coach Dick Advocaat deciding that the ex-West Brom man offers more going forward.

It (attacking) is a part of the game where I’ve had to improve on with the way football has become

Billy Jones

It is the longest run of consecutive games that Jones has enjoyed since arriving at the Stadium of Light after an injury-ravaged first season on Wearside.

But with Jones and left-back Patrick van Aanholt encouraged to attack at every opportunity under Advocaat’s system, Sunderland have looked more dangerous as a result.

Jones told the Echo: “It (attacking) is a part of the game which I’ve had to improve on with the way football has become. Full-backs provide more width than they ever have done and the emphasis is on them to get forward more.

“I do enjoy it, but if you ask me now what the most important thing, it’s definitely to get clean sheets and 1-0 wins. I’d take that all day.

“But individually, if I can win my one-on-one battle defensively and then cause them problems the other way, set up goals and keep the ball in the final third, then that’s great from a personal point of view.”

With Advocaat asking both Connor Wickham and Jermain Defoe to operate in behind centre-forward Danny Graham in the last two games, the ex-Holland manager has opted against deploying orthodox wingers.

Instead, it is up to the full-backs to provide the width in Advocaat’s system, with the central midfield trio relied upon to cover defensively.

But ex-West Brom man Jones insists Sunderland’s players are well-briefed in that set-up to ensure they are not caught short defensively if he pushes on.

“From the shape of the side, the manager emphasises the point that when the full-backs go forward, the midfielders have to recognise it and cover them,” added the 28-year-old.

“If they are the most advanced forward player out wide, they need support as well.

“That is being outlined before the game, so it does give you that opportunity for when it’s on your side, you have the chance to overlap or underlap and push back the opposition the other way.”