Simon Grayson on why Sunderland will see the best of key trio when Championship resumes

Simon Grayson believes deadline day signings Jonny Williams, Callum McManaman and Marc Wilson will soon be firing on all cylinders.

Monday, 9th October 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 10:11 am
Callum McManaman. Picture by Frank Reid

International fixtures meant the Black Cats were without a game at the weekend, a break from the relentless Championship schedule and chance for Grayson to work with those players not away with their countries.

Grayson says the break in league action came at the right time for those players who have been playing catch-up with their fitness.

Williams, away with Wales on international duty, and McManaman were both on the bench for the 2-2 draw with Preston North End last weekend, while Marc Wilson missed out with a groin injury picked up in the 5-2 thrashing at Ipswich Town.

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All three had barely played any football before arriving on a busy deadline day.

Creative midfielder Williams arrived from Crystal Palace on a season-long loan, winger McManaman signed from West Brom on a two-year deal and defender Wilson joined from Bournemouth.

“The break has given us the opportunity to get some work into players that are playing catch-up,” said Grayson.

“Don’t forget Williams, McManaman, Wilson have not played a lot of football – they have had one hell of a schedule over the past month.

“They are probably down on their sharpness and fitness levels in terms of where we would like them to be, at this stage.

“This break also gave us more time for Duncan Watmore to be available and Paddy McNair is making good progress.

“Josh Maja is making good progress.”

September was a hectic month for the Black Cats, with six league games and the Carabao Cup defeat at Everton to contend with, but the schedule is far lighter in October.

Sunderland have just four games, with Queens Park Rangers the visitors to the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon.

That fixture is followed by an away trip to Brentford the following Saturday, ahead of back-to-back home games against Bristol City and Bolton Wanderers to finish the month.

When asked whether the less-frenetic schedule would be a benefit, Grayson admitted that, should Sunderland get off to a winning start against QPR, they wouldn’t mind another jam-packed fixture list.

Grayson added: “Possibly.

“But if we win the first couple of games in October we will want to be playing every Saturday-Tuesday because of the momentum that gets going!

“I would have liked to have not had so many games last month because we weren’t winning and we could have done with time on the training ground.

“But look, at different times of the year, you are going to get busy times and less busy times. What we have to do is, whatever games we play, make sure we get results.”