Sunderland new boys backed to be hit – by player who knows them well

Jason Denayer

Jason Denayer

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Sunderland’s new boys have been backed to be a hit at the Stadium of Light by midfielder Jack Rodwell.

David Moyes smashed the club’s record transfer fee to land Didier Ndong from Lorient on deadline day, and added Manchester City defender Jason Denayer on a season-long loan.

Free agent Victor Anichebe joined the Black Cats after the window shut, and the Sunderland squad now has a stronger look to it.

Former Everton and Man City star Rodwell has played and trained alongside both Anichebe and Denayer, and believes they will be good signings for the club.

“I trained with Victor a few times and obviously I know him well from my Everton days,” said Rodwell.

“He is a big, strong lad and when he is fit and on form he can be a real handful, so hopefully he gives us an extra dimension.

“Jason I know from Man City. He was only maybe 18 or 19 when I was there.

“I was impressed with him at the time, he has obviously got some international caps for Belgium and good experience under his belt now too.

“He is a good defender, I really like him.”

While Rodwell has played alongside the pair, he admits to knowing less about Ndong, who cost £13.6million.

It adds extra competition in the middle of the park, where Rodwell has been holding the fort this season in the absence through injury of Lee Cattermole and Jan Kirchhoff.

And rather than fearing for his place, he is relishing the prospect of playing alongside Ndong.

“I don’t know much about him, I have not seen him play,” said Rodwell.

“Obviously we have paid a big fee so he will be a good player.

“It is more competition and we have Jan Kirchhoff and Lee Cattermole to come back plus Seb Larsson too, although he is long-term.

“There is strength there, that is brilliant though.

“In my opinion it is one of the most important positions on the field – we need as much strength-in-depth there as possible.

“I enjoy the competition, it spurs you on.

“The good thing for me is I can play in a few different roles, I can play holding midfield or more attacking or drop back into defence too.”

Kirchhoff returned from injury in the midweek Checkatrade Trophy game at Rochdale, playing the full 90 minutes to put himself in the frame for a starting role against Everton on Monday.

Rodwell has been playing in Kirchhoff’s favoured defensive midfield role so far this season, but sees no reason why he can’t develop an understanding with the German.

“It is possible,” said Rodwell. “The last game I played the defensive role.

“I played a couple of games at centre half too, it depends on what formation the manager sticks with.

“Obviously we have had a few injuries, once everyone is back fit, he may pick a preferred formation and then we will see how I fit into it.

“It could be good, me and Jan in there, something to look forward to but we will have to see what the manager chooses to do.”