Tom Flanagan on Sunderland’s set piece battle and why he enjoys life in the Jack Ross system

SAFC 1-1 FTFC EFL league1 Stadium of Light 08-09-2018. Picture by FRANK REID
SAFC 1-1 FTFC EFL league1 Stadium of Light 08-09-2018. Picture by FRANK REID
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Tom Flanagan hopes to prove he is the perfect fit for Jack Ross’s preferred Sunderland system after impressing against Rochdale Town.

Flanagan slotted in on the right of defence for the 4-1 win last weekend and admits that he is more than happy with the role.

The 26-year-old thinks he can build a platform and offer cover for the likes of Lynden Gooch to thrive.

He said: “It’s a good position for me I’ve played left-back most of the last two seasons so it’s nice to have it instantly on my right foot now.

“I maybe don’t offer what the modern day full-back offers going forward, it’s more about backing up and getting back in. I like playing in a three, you get a lot of time on the ball and I’ll play anywhere in a three.

“That’s where I’ve played for Northern Ireland and I’ve always enjoyed it,” he added.

“Wingers are sometimes better left on their own anyway, they like the cameras on them! I just leave them to it!”

Flanagan’s return has been timely as the Black Cats look to get to grips with their set piece woes.

The defender offers welcome height to a side that has often lacked it this season.

He will be needed on Saturday, with Coventry City defender Dom Hyam admitting that those situations will be central to their plans at the Ricoh Arena.

Flanagan admits there has been a period of adjustment but is confident that the squad are improving.

“There’s been a few individual mistakes,” he said.

“Also, it’s a new group and we’ve all done it differently at different groups, so it has to come together now and that’s been difficult. “We’re getting there and it was good against Rochdale. They’ll score a lot from set pieces as well because they leave one-v-one at the back. We just have to get on with that aspect of it.”

Flanagan, who has been on Sunderland away days with friends who support the club, is relishing the prospect of playing in front of over 5,000 travelling fans.

“It’ll be brilliant,” he said.

“It’s a nice place to play, they’re a good young team. A very different test, they’ll want to play their football. It’ll feel like a home game which is great.”