Sunderland's goalkeeping dilemma and Lee Burge's future under the spotlight
The Sunderland squad is set to be overhauled but will the Black Cats look to bring in a new No1?
Lee Burge triggered an option to extend his contract for another year but will Lee Johnson look to shake-up his goalkeeping department?
Our Sunderland writers discuss Burge’s future.
Phil Smith: ‘There aren't too many McLaughlin's around at this level but Sunderland need to try and find one.’
Burge has had a decent season and his response to being dropped for the game at Shrewsbury Town was excellent.
Right through the unbeaten run that followed, he made some big saves at important moments in games.
Sunderland will need a new goalkeeper, though, as it's the right time to find a first loan move for Anthony Patterson.
It's also clear that the departure of Jon McLaughlin has left a gap in the squad that has not been adequately replaced.
Burge can absolutely have a role to play through next season should he decide to stay, but a new goalkeeper to lead the group will I imagine be a key priority
for Lee Johnson.
There aren't too many McLaughlin's around at this level but Sunderland need to try and find one.
Mark Donnelly: ‘Could we see a more left-field option pursued?’
For all their have been some fairly high-profile errors on Burge's part throughout the campaign, I'd still argue that the good moments have outweighed the bad this term.
Burge is a reliable stopper at this level, but you would expect Johnson to have one eye on the division higher as he begins his recruitment drive this summer.
That will likely mean that another goalkeeper will be brought in to provide direct competition for Burge rather than simply act as cover.
It's also time for Anthony Patterson to head out on loan, with the youngster in need of first-team experience - something he isn't guaranteed on Wearside.
A high bar was set by Jon McLaughlin during the club's first two seasons in League One, and finding a goalkeeper of his ilk will be a difficult task.
Indeed, any who appear on the market will no doubt be in high demand in both the third tier and the Championship.
But with data now at the forefront of Sunderland's recruitment operations, could we see a more left-field option pursued?