Jon McLaughlin explains the key to improving Sunderland's clean sheet record in promotion push

Jon McLaughlin believes that a settled defence will be key to hitting Jack Ross’ clean sheet target for the League One campaign.

Saturday, 10th August 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Saturday, 10th August 2019, 7:00 am
Jon McLaughlin is hoping to have a more settled defence in front of him this season

After falling short of promotion last season, Ross analysed the areas where he felt his team had fallen short compared to Luton, Barnsley and Charlton.

Clean sheets were a key metric.

Sunderland kept 13 and after looking back at a number of League One seasons, the Black Cats boss believes 20 is more like the number required.

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Goalkeeper McLaughlin believes settled partnerships are key and a cursory glance at the sides above Sunderland in the table last season would back that up.

Those teams played a settled unit in the vast majority of games and many of the individuals landed big moves in the summer.

McLaughlin thinks Sunderland are well equipped to improve.

“I think so,” he said.

“I hope we are. We’ve got a good little nucleus of players. The main thing is if we can try to keep a settled defensive unit – last year there were too many changes and that doesn’t help if you’re constantly changing players and systems.

“You need that continuity if you’re going to get anywhere so hopefully this year we’ll have that settled unit and that will only help us to become a stronger defensive line.

“You see it all the time that teams that get promoted from this division score a lot of goals and are stingey at the other. If we can do that with the goals we score, that will certainly get us over the line this season.”