Conor McLaughlin reacts to his Sunderland debut, a surprise role and the season ahead

After signing Conor McLaughlin, Jack Ross spoke of the added versatility the Northern Irishman would give him.

Saturday, 13th July 2019, 06:00 am
Updated Friday, 12th July 2019, 14:56 pm

On Thursday night it was already on show.

McLaughlin dropped into the right side of a back three as Ross sprung a minor surprise in his system for the 2-0 win.

Conor McLaughlin made his Sunderland debut on Thursday night

The full back was brought in to replace Adam Matthews and in a 45-minute cameo his best skills were on show, powerful in the air and tidy defensively.

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Lynden Gooch started the game at wing-back and while Luke O’Nien is expected to get a chance in midfield before the League One campaign begins, he again shone out wide in the second half, scoring a fine goal.

Ross is also adding to his central defensive options as the season nears.

So there will be competition for places this season and McLaughlin is ready to take his chance, in whatever position it arrives.

“Wing back is where I played at Fleetwood last time I played in League One,” he said.

“I've played on the right of a back three for Northern Ireland and Fleetwood, so I'm comfortable. I'll just play wherever I'm needed.

“It's [regular minutes] never a given in football,” he added.

“You have to make sure you nail down your place. We tried out a different formation tonight and I don't know which we'll play at the start of the season.

“It's never a given you'll be in the starting team, especially at a club like this. We've got a lot of good players, everything is going to fighting for a starting place.”

McLaughlin is enjoying life on Wearside as preparations for the new season begin.

“The manager has been brilliant with me, training has been brilliant,” he said.

“He's really involved with it, a really good coach and man manager.

The facilities are unbelievable, the manager, staff and everyone at the club has made me feel really welcome,” he added.

“The training has been brilliant, I've really enjoyed the first week and a half and it's good to get out on the pitch again.”

McLaughlin was named in the League One team of the season last time he played at this level.