May 26, 2024

Sunderland Boss Handed Boost Ahead Of Crucial Norwich City Clash - The Real  EFL

Sunderland Boss Handed Boost Ahead Of Crucial Norwich City Clash

Sunderland caretaker boss Mike Dodds has admitted that star attacker Jack Clarke could return to the squad this weekend to face Norwich City at Carrow Road, having missed Saturday’s home defeat.

Dodds was named interim head coach at the Stadium of Light for the second time this season after former manager Michael Beale parted ways with the club following two consecutive defeats to Huddersfield Town and Birmingham City.

The 37-year-old had a winnable fixture awaiting his return to the dugout against Swansea City. Unfortunately, Sunderland’s issues piled higher in the build-up to the game when the interim boss announced that top goalscorer Clarke was unavailable, having rolled his ankle a week prior at St. Andrew’s.

Sunderland Boss Handed Boost Ahead Of Crucial Norwich City Clash - The Real  EFL

The former Leeds United man has scored 15 goals this season for the Wearside club which is almost one-third of the side’s total number of goals in the Championship. As a result, Dodds changed the team’s shape to a back three with wingbacks to make up for Clarke’s absence but the Black Cats still looked toothless at times.

Dodds fielded quite a young squad, with the likes of Nazariy Rusyn, Jobe Bellingham, Abdoullah Ba and Pierre Ekwah all featuring in key positions for Sunderland. Speaking after the game, the caretaker boss appreciated fan frustrations with some of the younger players but made a point about the need to be patient [quotes via The Northern Echo]:

Sunderland Boss Handed Boost Ahead Of Crucial Norwich City Clash - The Real  EFL

“We have to make sure that message is really clear with Romaine (Mundle), Abdoullah, Naz. I appreciate there will be frustration among the fans and I wish I could fast forward time, but Jack Clarke when he came to the club wasn’t the Jack Clarke he is now.

“That’s a really important message people need to, not understand because they’re fans and want to win games of football, but from where I’m sitting, we have to make sure we work with the other players to get another Jack Clarke.”

The manager also revealed that Clarke is “raring to go”, hinting at a return to the squad on Saturday as Sunderland travel to Carrow Road to take on a familiar foe in Norwich City in what could be a defining game for their playoff hopes.

“He’s raring to go. He’s a robust boy since he’s come in, he’s hardly missed any football. He rarely misses training, hence the reason we thought he’d be available [for the Swansea game], but for whatever reason, that hasn’t happened.”

Writer’s View

Sunderland Boss Handed Boost Ahead Of Crucial Norwich City Clash - The Real  EFL

Clarke is an irreplaceable and indispensable member of the Sunderland squad. The worry for the Black Cats this season was always the overreliance on the 23-year-old to score and him bagging one-third of the side’s goals in the league showcases this perfectly.

Dodds’ men now find themselves staring down the barrel of a fourth-consecutive defeat this weekend should the Canaries put them to the sword. This becomes less of a reality if Clarke returns to the starting lineup.

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