'It’s a great club': Patrick Roberts explains his Sunderland move and difficult start to the season

After going seven league games without a start Patrick Roberts is once again looking like a key player for Sunderland.

The 25-year-old winger has been named in the starting XI for three successive matches under new head coach Tony Mowbray, scoring twice while assisting Jewison Bennette’s late equaliser at Watford.

Roberts’ ability was clear to see at the end of last season as he helped Sunderland win promotion from League One.

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Still, the side’s switch to a wing-back system hindered the former Manchester City man at the start of this campaign, after he had signed a new two-year deal at the Stadium of Light.

Patrick Roberts celebrates Sunderland's second goal at Watford. Picture by FRANK REID

Roberts’ return to form shows just how quickly things can change, though, especially when games are coming thick and fast in the Championship.

Sunderland are set to play seven times in October, meaning Mowbray will have to utilise his squad, with opportunities likely to arise for some players on the fringes.

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The Black Cats are already dealing with lengthy injury setbacks to Daniel Ballard and Ross Stewart, while Dennis Cirkin and Ellis Simms were also unavailable at Watford.

Sunderland will therefore need more players to step up, with Roberts providing a perfect example.

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“It’s a team sport and I’ve come here and wanted to be here,” Roberts told the Echo. “It’s a great club and we had so much success last year.

“Coming into this season it was tough, it’s difficult when you’re not playing but you’ve got to keep that same morale and positivity because things change like this in football and suddenly you are starting games and have to step up to the mark.

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“Like I said, that comes from the manager giving that belief in the squad and we have to step up when we are needed.”

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Mowbray certainly rates Roberts highly but has told the playmaker he needs to add more goals and assists to his game.

"Listen he needs to get goals,” Mowbray told Sky Sports following Sunderland’s 3-0 win at Reading. “I said to Patrick when I first came, I said 'How are you not in the starting 11 of this football club?'

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"He sort of laughed. It wasn't a laugh but more of a recognition that he needs to push on, he needs to start showing everybody.”