This is why Sunderland defender Bailey Wright was missing at Reading
‘Tony Mowbray's Red and White Army,’ sang the Sunderland fans in the South Stand. Over 2,000 of them had made the journey to Reading on a Wednesday evening, and it had been worth the trip.
There were a few chants against former head coach Alex Neil, yet this was all about the here and now, with the Black Cats recording a convincing 3-0 win at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.
There were also standing ovations for Patrick Roberts, after his two first-half goals, and Alex Pritchard as the pair were substituted, while the move for Jack Clarke’s third goal started with goalkeeper Anthony Patterson and was scored with 12 touches in 20 seconds.
Here are some of the moments you may have missed:
Patrick Roberts’ injury scare
Roberts then scored twice in quick succession, yet there was also a brief moment when he looked to be in trouble.
After skipping past Reading substitute Baba Rahman in the second half, the Sunderland playmaker was caught on the ankle and punched the floor after going to ground.
While he was initially in some discomfort, Roberts was thankfully able to run the problem off.
A tactical change
While Sunderland appeared to start with a back three of Luke O’Nien, Danny Batth and Aji Alese, their system remained flexible throughout.
As the match wore on, the Black Cats seemed to be operating with a back four, which was certainly the case when Simms was forced off in the 37th minute.
Elliot Embleton came on and played alongside Dan Neil in midfield, just ahead of Corry Evans in the holding role.
Roberts moved further to the right, with Jack Clarke on the left and Alex Pritchard through the centre, yet Sunderland’s attack remained fluid, offering energy, speed and quality.
Chelsea coach in attendance
If Sunderland’s young team continue to play like this, they will continue to catch people’s attention.
In the crowd at Reading was Chelsea’s loan player technical coach Carlo Cudicini, who would have been watching Reading left-back Rahman when the defender came on at half-time.
While Sunderland don’t have any players on loan from Chelsea, Mowbray was able to sign several loan players from Premier League clubs, including Liverpool and Manchester City, during his time at Blackburn.
The Black Cats head coach has a reputation for developing young players, which could give Sunderland an advantage when trying to recruit in January.
Bailey Wright’s absence
While Mowbray made just one change to his starting XI from last week’s defeat at Middlesbrough, with Alese replacing the injured Dennis Cirkin, there was another absentee on the Sunderland bench.
Bailey Wright wasn’t named in the matchday squad, yet it’s understood that was because of personal reasons rather than an injury.
The 30-year-old defender has been named in Australia’s squad for their upcoming friendly matches against New Zealand this month.
As a result, Trai Hume was recalled to the bench while new signing Jewison Bennette was named in the Black Cats’ squad for the first time and came on to make his debut.