Middlesbrough midfielder Grant Leadbitter has admitted he is struggling to come to terms with his bench role this season. The experienced operator has dropped down the pecking order under Tony Pulis this season.
Such comments will no doubt have many teams considering a move for the player come January. One such team could be his first club Sunderland.
“I don’t change whether I’m in the team or not. I do my stuff every day on the football pitch, and that professionalism will never change, in or out of the team.
“The players that are playing in the team (for Championship matches) at the minute are doing well. So the players that are out of the team just have to keep fighting because you can’t complain when the team’s winning games and staying unbeaten.”
Leadbitter spent seven years on Wearside and still has a strong affinity with the club. Indeed, this summer, it was even rumoured a move could be made. As reported by the Roker Report, Leadbitter was a target for the Black Cats in the summer. However, with the club struggling to shift their well-paid layabouts Papy Djilobodji and Didier Ndong, a deal always looked unlikely.
With Leadbitter clearly hankering for some first-team football, perhaps Sunderland could rekindle their interest in the winter?
However, there is also a school of thought that any investment in the Sunderland team would be better off elsewhere in the winter.
Central midfield is an area where Sunderland are in fact quite strong. They have plenty of depth in the position thanks to new recruits Dylan McGeouch, Luke O’Nien and Max Power.
However, in other areas, especially attack, Sunderland need improvement.
Whilst Leadbitter returning might tug at the heartstrings, it could be better for Sunderland to guide their finances elsewhere in 2019.