This Sunderland transfer window decision could come back to haunt Cats after major injury blow

Going away to Middlesbrough was always a game that was going to prove difficult.

Sunderland would have gone into the game full of confidence though, given how easily they brushed aside Rotherham United last week in Tony Mowbray’s first game.

I would have guessed that the new manager would have been pleased the game was on a Monday night.

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With him just arriving in the door it would have given him an extra few days to prepare the team for the visit to his former club. I’m sure he used these days to implement his ideas and philosophy onto the squad.

Sunderland were beaten away at Middlesbrough.

However, all this preparation and planning would have gone out of the window at the Riverside with the late withdrawal of Ross Stewart from the starting XI.

Mowbray had to totally change his way of playing by bringing Patrick Roberts into the team.

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The game ended in defeat and obviously that was disappointing but the biggest concern for me was how little goal threat the Sunderland team offered without their hitman Stewart.

I don’t think it was a terrible performance - okay some players probably had slightly off days - but I felt Middlesbrough had control of proceedings all night.

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It showed how important Stewart has become to this team and highlighted that not bringing in another forward in the transfer window could potentially hurt this team going forward.

Hopefully Stewart won’t be out for too long but if it’s a muscle strain then it could be a few weeks minimum.

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It will leave Mowbray in a bit of a predicament and he may have to totally change the style of how the team play.

Sunderland brought in Amad Diallo and yes he can be played as a forward if needed but after watching his cameo against Middlesbrough he may need to work on his physicality and it could take a while for him to get up to speed.

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I’ve always thought that a few injuries will give a much better idea of how strong and prepared the squad are for this division and losing both Dan Ballard and Stewart in the first few weeks this will be answered over the next few weeks.

The likes of Roberts and Elliot Embleton will be disappointed with their lack of game time and be thinking they have been left out unfairly. Now is their chance to show to the new boss they can play in this XI and effect games too.

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I actually felt Roberts was finding his feet in the game on Monday just before he was taken off. I would have liked him to stay on as by taking both himself and Pritchard - who I thought looked tired - off took any potential guile out of the team.

There are three games in the next couple of weeks and I think after these games will be a fair time to properly evaluate Sunderland’s start to the season.

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I know you have to take every game by game but looking at the next three fixtures, which include two away trips to teams who have started really well, if Sunderland can be sitting with 15 points after 11 games then I would definitely take that.

Anything more than that will be a bonus.