Simon Grayson getting closer to his best Sunderland side and hails emerging defender

Tyias Browning.
Tyias Browning.
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Simon Grayson believes his best Sunderland XI is starting to take shape as the Championship season draws ever closer.

Derby County visit the Stadium of Light in less than two weeks time with the Black Cats squad far from complete.

Grayson is in the market for new additions up front, out wide and in goal at the very least, while a number of players may yet leave the club.

Nevertheless the 3-2 win over Bradford has left the Sunderland boss feeling that his side is beginning to come together.

There was particular praise, too, for young centre-back Tyias Browning, who has impressed since making his debut at St Johnstone.

Grayson said: “Yeah, I think there’s been some players that have contributed really well and said I’m ready to be picked.

“You’d look at someone like Tyias Browning, he’s come in the last couple of games and done really well.

“His application has been really good, as it has been with some of the other players.”

Youngster Josh Maja is another who has made a big impact in the pre-season and is staking a claim for a place in the matchday squad.

Grayson has two more games before the Rams arrive and will hope to get game time for new signing Aiden McGeady and trialist goalkeeper Robbin Ruiter.

The Sunderland boss insists his priority will be to continue stressing the importance team ethic and a high work-rate ahead of what will be a physically demanding campaign.

He said: “I keep saying its about getting that work ethic into the players, they’re at this football club because they’re talented players, so get it right and we can go in the right direction.”