Defender explains exactly why key new Sunderland partnership is making such an impact

Reece James says the presence of Grant Leadbitter and Lee Cattermole is ‘massive’ for the Sunderland defence.

Wednesday, 27th February 2019, 9:15 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th February 2019, 9:17 am
BRFC 0-2 SAFC 23-02-2019. Picture by FRANK REID

Jack Ross turned to the pair as his midfield base for the 4-2 win over Gillingham and was impressed with the balance they gave his side.

He stuck with that structure for the trip to Bristol Rovers on Saturday and both were influential as Sunderland secured their first league clean sheet in five games.

James was part of the backline that helped secure that result and explained the contribution made by the vastly experience pair.

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“The experience they’ve got is massive and they only help out us behind them,” he said.

“Their talking is massive for us and the protection they give us, either in the air or on the floor, is great.

“It’s just as good when they are on the ball because they’re so composed, they take the pressure right off,” he added.

“They take the sting out of the game.”

Ross had high praise for the fair after the Memorial Stadium win, and is pleased to establishing some continuity in selection after a busy January transfer window.

Leadbitter and Cattermole are likely to continue against Plymouth Argyle on Saturday, though Ross did admit that the demands of the fixture schedule will lead to some rotation over the coming weeks and months.

“You always want consistency of selection to a degree, though it is more difficult in the Championship and League One, League Two due to the amount of games and fatigue factor that comes in,” he said.

“A lot of times people aren’t aware of that, it is behind the scenes stuff, but you would want a general consistency and for people to build relationships.

“There is going to be times when we are going to have to mix it up again depending on what we are facing and how players are feeling.

“Certainly, all those little units over the park against Bristol Rovers were good.”