Why Paddy McNair’s Return Could Be A Big Boost For Sunderland
Sunderland defender Paddy McNair is returning from his recent lay-off and his participation is very much needed by the under-fire Simon Grayson.
McNair appeared before the media this week and seems very keen to personally help Sunderland get back up the Championship table after what has been a horrific run of form during his injury lay-off.
The Northern Ireland international has spent the best part of a year out of the side with a ruptured cruciate ligament, an injury he sustained last November. He managed to play the first half of Sunderland under-23’s friendly win against Hertha Berlin this week, even scoring the first goal in a 2-0 win.
Despite a reasonably solid start to the campaign, Sunderland have dropped alarmingly down the division with no wins in 9 games and currently sit at second bottom of the Championship. Some argue that this form, along with their demise last season in the Premier League, coincides with McNair’s injury.
That may be technically true, but to suggest they would have survived last season had he stayed fit seems to border the ridiculous. That said, a player of his ability will be a big loss to a side in Sunderland’s current position and with the heat now firmly turned on, Simon Grayson must be counting down the days until he can call on McNair.
McNair’s claim a year ago that he joined Sunderland instead of Newcastle because he wanted to join the bigger club has proven, sadly predictably, to be a very foolish comment. The north east is not a place to make those sort of comments and expect them to be forgotten, but as long as he concentrates on his football, McNair may yet have a bright future in the game, and am sure the £4.5m investment by Sunderland would not go in vain.
The defender’s full and regular return could still be some weeks away for Sunderland and I’m sure fans are hoping that there’s not too much damage done between now and then. The club’s last league win away at Norwich in August now seems like ages ago and it is crucial for the long-term future of this club that they survive the season at the very least.
Sunderland play QPR this Saturday, a game from which they are capable of taking points from and should they succeed in doing so, they can consider it a platform for better things. Even if they fail, McNair’s return will offer precious little comfort.