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Sunderland boss gives Patrick Roberts and Jack Clarke update ahead of Bolton Wanderers clash

Patrick Roberts is set to be included in the matchday squad for the first time when Sunderland travel to Bolton Wanderers on Saturday afternoon.

By Phil Smith
Friday, 28th January 2022, 1:52 pm
Updated Friday, 28th January 2022, 1:53 pm

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Roberts signed an initial six-month contract on Wearside after leaving Manchester City last week, but had not played a competitive game since September and so Lee Johnson decided not to include him in the 1-0 win over Portsmouth.

After a full week of training Roberts is now expected to be named on the bench at the University of Bolton Stadium, and Johnson has been impressed by the quality the 24-year-old has already demonstrated.

"It's fair to say he's got a chance of being involved," Johnson said.

Sunderland winger Patrick Roberts

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"We've definitely had to work smart with Patrick, it's an interesting load in terms of the season he's had so far. It's about allowing him to peak in the run-in, simple as that.

"I think he'll be available for us from the bench this week and I think he'll show us what he's got.

"He's got quicker feet than Michael Flatley, so it'll be interesting to see him bring that to our games."

Johnson's attacking options could be further boosted by the return of Alex Pritchard, while Jack Clarke could also be in contention to make his Sunderland debut.

Clarke signed on loan from Tottenham Hotspur earlier this week until the end of the season.

Able to play off either flank or through the middle, he brings more welcome versatility in the final third for Johnson.

The Sunderland boss says the 21-year-old has areas to improve on but will be one of the best ball-carriers in the league.

"I think he brings us another quality player with a high football IQ," Johnson said.

"He can go past people at will, really.

"From a coaching point of view, his starting phase to his dribble, Chris Waddle was a classic example and I played against him, so I know how hard he was to tackle. He gets his head so far over the ball which makes it really difficult to tackle him.

"There's areas of his game to work on but I think in terms of ball carrying he'll be up there with the best in the division."

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