How Denver Hume improved against Lincoln and aided Sunderland's attacking play in Papa John’s Trophy win
Nearly five months after his last competitive appearance at the same ground, Denver Hume made his competitive return to action following a lengthy hamstring injury.
The 23-year-old’s recovery has been managed carefully at the Academy of Light, so a 90-minute showing in a 2-1 win at Lincoln in the Papa John’s Trophy should be encouraging for the defender.
Hume will be expected to play again when Sunderland face Manchester United Under-21s in the same competition next week, with Dennis Cirkin away on international duty with England Under-20s.
The battle between Hume and Cirkin for the left-back position will be an interesting one, given the latter’s impressive start to the season following his arrival from Tottenham this summer.
Cirkin’s defensive qualities have given the side more security at the back, while the 19-year-old has shown more confidence getting forward week by week.
Since his emergence through Sunderland’s academy, Hume’s ability to run with the ball and provide an attacking outlet has been praised.
The defender’s energy and confidence in possession meant Sunderland boss Lee Johnson was keen to keep a player who still has potential to improve and would suit the head coach’s style of play.
Those qualities were evident against Lincoln when Sunderland pressed from the front, as shown by figure one when Oliver Younger stepped in to tackle Lincoln forward Hakeeb Adelakun, while Hume was also ready if the ball was played to midfielder Ramirez Longdon.
Hume’s advanced position did leave his side exposed at times, though, as shown by figure two when Ellis Taylor conceded possession and Max Sanders’ pass released Adelakun on Lincoln’s right.
The forward was thwarted by Younger, who produced a fine defensive performance at the LNER Stadium, but it was a clear warning sign.
Lincoln created another opening five minutes before half-time when Kenton Richardson’s loose pass allowed Adelakun to pick out Maguire on the right, while Hume was caught on the halfway line (figure three).
Sunderland managed to survive again as the forward lacked support and his low cross into the penalty area wasn’t converted.
Hume grew into the game after half-time, though, as his attacking attributes came to the fore.
All seven of the defender’s attempted dribbles, four of which were in the opposition’s half, were successful as Johnson’s youthful side looked to get on the front foot.
Hume also played his part in Sunderland’s second goal, which was eventually converted by substitute Stephen Wearne following a neat passing move.
A supporting run from Hume down the left gave striker Will Harris the outlet he needed to sustain a visiting attack, before the full-back made a darting run across the edge of Lincoln’s box.
That allowed more Sunderland players time to get forward, before Harrison Sonha and Alex Pritchard linked up, Dan Neil’s cross was met by the head of Aiden O’Brien and Wearne bundled home his chance.
It wasn’t the first time Hume helped link play in the final third, as shown by his attempted passes (figure five), as the full-back finished with a pass completion rate of 81 per cent.
After a damaging setback here last season, this was a far more positive experience for the defender.