Tom Flanagan opens up on new defensive competition and why Sunderland squad doesn't need many more additions

Tom Flanagan believes Sunderland’s new defensive additions ‘bring something new’ to the squad.

By Phil Smith
Tuesday, 23 July, 2019, 11:55

The Black Cats had the fourth best defence in League One last year but Jack Ross has made more clean sheets a key priority this time around.

Both Jordan Willis and Conor McLaughlin have impressed in pre-season so far and bring vast League One experience.

“The new boys have settled really well,” Flanagan told safc.com.

Tom Flanagan in pre-season action

“Jordan has looked really good and strong and quick, brings something new to the defence.

“I knew Conor previously and he’s just come and done exactly what I thought he would do, been tidy on the ball and good defensively.

“It’s not somewhere we needed to strengthen but when you get offered players like them you’d been mad to turn them down. It brings something new to the squad and that is important.

“We might have the had fourth-best defence but we didn’t quite cross the line so if we can get into the first and second spot and they can help us, that’ll be really important.”

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Sunderland have been relatively quiet in the transfer market, adding three players.

Their pre-season squad has been significantly larger than this time last year, however, when Flanagan played just about every minute of the programme.

Ross has been able to switch his team regularly, experimenting with different formations and positions.

Flanagan says that continuity is crucial and believes the Black Cats are well set for the upcoming campaign regardless of any further additions.

“It’s quite relaxed [at the camp], we now what we need to do, there’s no shying away from that,” he said.

“At the same time, there’s not been too many new faces in the door which people might moan at or begrudge, I think if you were to ask the squad, I don’t think we really needed too much.

“People can say what they want to say about how much we need new players, I don’t think anyone at the training camp thinks that.

“I’m sure the gaffer will have his eye on players that he wants to come in, but there’s definitely not a long list of players who want to leave and we’ve got a big squad already.”