SUNDERLAND legend Gary Bennett believes Wes Brown could be the man to offer some solidity to the Black Cats’ brittle defence.
New head coach Gus Poyet is considering handing Brown a stunning recall in Sunday’s Wear-Tyne derby, in a bid to boost a back-line that has conceded 20 goals in just eight Premier League games.
Brown has not made a competitive appearance since January, 2012, with his attempt at a pre-season comeback halted by a knee injury in August.
But while former Sunderland centre-half Bennett acknowledges that it’s a risk to play Brown against Newcastle, he says the former England international would offer some much needed leadership to the defence.
The BBC Newcastle analyst told the Echo: “If it comes off great, if it doesn’t come off, then obviously you’ve got to look for a replacement who can come on.
“Fingers crossed, he can last the 90 minutes because I think we need someone of Wes Brown’s stature to come into the heart of the defence.
“I would imagine he’ll come in alongside John O’Shea.
“When you look at the goals we’ve conceded, they’ve all been soft ones.
“You’re looking for a leader, aren’t you?
“Mentally, we’re a bit weak. The minute there’s a stray pass or we concede a goal, we’re looking around for a leader to take responsibility.
“I don’t think we’ve got enough of them in the team.
“People keep saying we don’t score enough goals, but, at the moment, we’ve got to score at least two to win a game.
“We’re not capable of winning a game 1-0 because we can’t defend.
“We know where the weaknesses are so you can imagine what other managers are saying.”
Bennett says Poyet needs to settle on a regular back four after Sunderland have used five different defensive combinations in the league this season.
And he believes that familiarity, communication and, most importantly, concentration would inject some solidity into the side, particularly from their Achilles heel of set pieces.
“They need to have an understanding between Keiren Westwood and the back four,” added the ex-Black Cats skipper.
“You could see what he was like after the Swansea game, he was frustrated as well.
“It doesn’t help if it’s chopping and changing week in, week out because you don’t get an understanding. You need a settled back four.
“All good teams are built from the back. You don’t concede goals.
“Hopefully they’ve been working on defending, especially from set pieces.
“You look at set pieces from the opponents now and they look as if they’re going to score every time.”
H Bennett captained the Sunderland side in a charity golf tournament against a Newcastle team at Durham’s Ramside Hall yesterday.
Proceeds from the event went towards the Sunderland Foundation of Light and the Newcastle United Foundation.