After two wasted years at Manchester City – and an injury-plagued season at the Stadium of Light – there’s not many players in the Sunderland squad that have more to prove than Jack Rodwell.
It might be unfair but when you move to a new club for £10million, the expectations are high and you have to deliver.
It’s fast approaching make-or-break if he’s to have the bright future many predicted for him
Rodwell showed flashes of his undoubted potential last year, but no more than that, and if he’s to finally find the high level of performance his transfer fee indicates he’s capable of, then he needs the rhythm of playing week-in, week-out.
He ticks most of the boxes the modern midfielder needs – 6ft plus with a good engine, he can get box-to-box and has an eye for goal, but too often when I’ve seen him play, he drifts out of games for long periods when he should be dominating the middle of the park.
That could be down to a lack of confidence, brought on by his poor injury record. Missing more games than you play is no way to build up momentum, or find consistent form.
But whatever the reason, it’s fast approaching make-or-break if he’s to have the bright future many predicted for him. You can’t live on potential for ever.
This is a huge season for Jack, one where the club will be expecting a return on that investment and I’m sure no-one knows that more than the player himself.