Who is Conor McLaughlin? Why Sunderland have signed him and what he'll add to team
Sunderland today announced their first summer signing - 27-year-old right-back Conor McLaughlin - but what do we know about the former Millwall man?
Height: 6 foot
Nationality: Northern Irish
Fee: Free transfer
Contract length: Two-year-deal
What sort of experience has he got?
Born in Belfast, McLaughlin has made 35 international appearances for Northern Ireland, netting one goal, and is the older brother of the five-times-capped Ryan McLaughlin.
The full-back started his career at Preston North End before moving on to Fleetwood Town and later Millwall - making over 200 league appearances.
What do we know about McLaughlin’s recent stint at Millwall?
During the 2017-18, McLaughlin made just 23 Championship starts due to competition from Mahlon Romeo but remained a positive influence on his teammates in the dressing room.
Speaking to London News Online,McLaughlin said: “Mahlon came in and did brilliantly in a couple of games. I did have a chance to get back in but I didn’t really take it myself and play as well as I can.”
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Unfortunately, McLaughlin failed to cement a starting position at The Den and was released at the end of last season having made just 11 appearances.
Why have Sunderland signed him?
Departing right-back Adam Matthews left a void in Sunderland’s squad which needed filling.
The Wales international never really convinced in a Sunderland shirt and Jack Ross will be hoping McLaughlin can bring consistency to the Black Cats’ defence.
Ross admitting that: "He (McLaughlin) brings quality and experience to a position that was of high priority for us."
Luke O’Nien, who spent most of his season filling in at right-back last season, may see himself moved back into his natural midfield position come the start of the campaign.
Is he a good fit for Jack Ross’ side?
At 6 foot tall, McLaughlin could bring some much needed physicality and presence to a Sunderland backline which struggled at times last campaign.
If Sunderland are to escape League One at the second time of asking then a a defender with as much experience as McLaughlin has in this division could be crucial.
McLaughlin also played as part of a back-three for Millwall last season, so brings versatility and gives Ross an extra tactical option.
The defender was dubbed ‘the underdog in a team of underdogs’ by the Irish Times after helping Northern Ireland to the 2016 European Championships in France – suggesting a willingness to work hard despite limitations.
McLaughlin had suffered a broken leg, a relegation and was released all by the age of 20 – so it appears the former Fleetwood man is made of stern stuff.