Robbin Ruiter to be pushing for number one and the other Sunderland talking points from Scunthorpe United draw

Robbin Ruiter makes a fine save.
Robbin Ruiter makes a fine save.
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Sunderland laboured to a 0-0 draw with Scunthorpe United last night.

Aiden McGeady finally made his Black Cats debut in the penultimate friendly before the season starts next Friday.

We take a look at some of the key talking points ...

A battle for the Number One shirt

Jason Steele’s arrival in a deal worth around £500,000 was announced just before kick-off at Glanford Park but his taking the number one shirt is surely no formality.

Grayson is still weighing up whether to sign Robbin Ruiter but he impressed again with an authoritative performance between the goalposts.

There was stunning save from close range as their had been at Bradford, and he looks calm whenever the ball comes into the box.

Made one very smart stop to deny Hakeeb Adelakun in the first half.

Gets down well for such a tall man and has an excellent kicking range.

He looks a real find and will surely compete with Steele if he signs.

Grayson has also said that Ruiter’s arrival will also mean he could look to get Max Stryjek a loan move.

That would signal a stay for Mika as third-choice, the Portugese man still yet to feature in a competitive game since signing a year ago.

When Lens and Khazri sit out the quality drops

Sunderland’s performance against Bradford looked to be a great leap forward, encouraging particularly because of the threat they posed on the counter.

The quality they bring is the ability to carry the ball up the field or quickly move it into a dangerous space.

In their absence last night, the Black Cats looked laboured and lacking cutting edge.

Aiden McGeady is building towards fitness so should start to make a far bigger impact in the coming weeks.

If Lens and Khazri leave, it will be crucial that he does.

Chances hard to come by

With Josh Maja missing due to the injury picked up at the weekend, Simon Grayson returned to the 4-1-4-1 shape that he used early in the pre-season programme.

Darron Gibson sat deep, a good role for him with two young, energetic midfielders in front of him.

He looked comfortable on the ball but in truth James Vaughan looked isolated up front and lacking support.

It was not until early in the second half that the Black Cats forced a save from Matt Gilks and when they did get the ball out wide in their opponents’ half, there was rarely enough bodies in the box to make a difference.

In that sense, Didier Ndong and the box-to-box energy he brings, makes a big impact.

Grayson will not feel comfortable going with two up front against some of the stronger sides in the Championship, but when he goes with one he will need to ensure the Black Cats can make the transition to attack quicker.

Full-back overload

This summer was always likely to be a balancing act for Sunderland in terms of transfers and one area where they are overloaded is the full-back department.

Towards the end of the game there were three on the pitch, with two having already been substituted.

Add to the mix Bryan Oviedo when he returns from injury, and the fact tha Tyias Browning can fill in at full-back, and it is clearly an area where savings could be made and put towards strengthening the top end of the pitch.

Billy Jones has a year left on his current deal and offers a reliable presence, while Donald Love also offers versatility in that he can play as the holding midfielder.

Adam Matthews has said that he expects to speak to Grayson soon about his future and it will perhaps be an area where Grayson thinks he can make cut-backs.

Grabban’s versatility will be much needed

The arrival of Lewis Grabban is a sensible gamble from Sunderland.

He has not played much football in recent years but has good pedigree at this level and with the Black Cats paying just a fraction of his weekly wage, does not represent a major financial commitment.

Grabban will offer a different dimension to James Vaughan, offering greater pace and perhaps more quality in terms of creating chances for others.

Being able to play out wide will also be a welcome option for Grayson should Jeremain Lens leave the club.

Josh Maja has been excellent and deserves an opportunity but Grabban means the Black Cats are not dependent on an unproven talent at Championship level.