The new Sunderland system and tactics Lee Johnson is set to use in League One this winter

Lee Johnson is set to utilise a different system over the winter period in League One.

Monday, 29th November 2021, 4:45 pm

Sunderland have seven points from three games but are currently missing Niall Huggins, Denver Hume, Corry Evans, Dennis Cirkin, Luke O’Nien and Aiden McGeady to injury.

That has forced Johnson into a tactical rethink with the head coach set to utilise wing-backs in five-at-the-back formation.

Speaking after Sunderland’s 2-0 win against Ipswich Town earlier in the month, Johnson said: “I’ve got to take each game on its merits and I have to be Uber-flexible. I had seven wingers fit today who could have played today.

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Head coach Lee Johnson

“We might have to go five at the back and two up top, but that really needs three or four weeks work because the pressing is different. But, we’ve got fit centre backs and wide players who could play wing-back.

“We’ll have to take it horses for courses, but there may be times when we might look a bit disjointed to get our best players on the pitch.”

Sunderland returned to action against Cambridge United on Saturday afternoon and switched from Johnson’s preferred 4-2-2-2 and 4-2-3-1 formations and deployed Lynden Gooch at wing-back in a back-five with Carl Winchester in midfield.

"We changed the shape and I thought that went well,” Johnson said.

"We might have to register myself and Jamie McAllister! I’m going to have to be tactically flexible, and every now and then we’re going to have a square peg in a round hole.

"We probably had fifteen players today.

"We’ll have to go again in this tough spell and bundle through to January.”

The Black Cats are set to take on Oldham in the Papa John’s Trophy at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday night but it is unclear yet as to how Johnson will line-up with a rotated squad possible.

But Johnson will have the luxury of being able to make five substitutions in their Papa John’s Trophy second-round clash with Oldham, the EFL has confirmed.

The change comes after clubs remaining in the competition ‘highlighted concerns of a demanding fixture schedule over the coming months’.

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