Jack Ross on George Dobson's Sunderland start and the fan favourite he can emulate
For much of the summer, central midfield had looked like on of Sunderland’s strongest positions.
Lee Cattermole left on July 1st, but the Black Cats were still well stocked with a variety of options.
Dylan McGeouch had been linked with a move back to Scotland, but Jack Ross had been clear that he wanted the Scot to stay.
So news of a move for Walsall’s George Dobson came as a surprise.
Ross, though, was convinced that the 21-year-old had a lot to offer and in the first month of the campaign there was more than enough to suggest that judgement was sound.
In what was a poor team display for much of the 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town, Dobson stood out with his tenacity.
His best display yet came in the 3-1 Carabao Cup win over Burnley, dominating an opposition midfield short on match fitness but packed with Premier Leagie experience.
“He hasn't surprised me,” Ross said.
“I was really keen to bring him in, I really pushed to get him in the summer from early on.
“It maybe looked as if we had different priorities and maybe the club felt we had to recruit in different areas first, but I kept chipping away at it.
“I was probably a bit of a pest with it, I really wanted him in.
“I was so impressed with him last season, for the reasons that he showed against Burnley.
“He's tenacious, got an energy about his game, but he's a good player as well.
“And he's played over 100 games at 21, which shows a strength of character.”
Ross hopes Dobson can replicate Luke O’Nien, who grew into one of his most important players over the course of his first season on Wearside.
“I'm sure he'll admit, a bit like Luke O'Nien when he came here, he's found training tough, his head has been in a tumble dryer with it at times,” Ross said.
“But I just keep reminding him he's a good player and that's why we brought him here.
“He's a great addition for us, he will help us this season and he's going to get better as time goes on like Luke has.”