May 20, 2024

Dodds Suggests Jobe Bellingham Could Solve Sunderland’s Striker Woes

MIKE Dodds believes Sunderland’s longstanding striker problem could potentially be solved by a player who is “right under their nose” – and he’s throwing his support behind Jobe Bellingham to claim the number nine spot for the Black Cats.

EXCLUSIVE: 'Huge club' Sunderland the 'perfect place' for Jobe Bellingham  development - Sports Illustrated Sunderland Nation

With the need to strengthen up front a priority for Sunderland this summer, Dodds is advocating for Bellingham to seize the opportunity.

Having endured a challenging season with their strikers, Dodds has turned to Bellingham and deployed the teenager up front in the last three matches, with expectations for him to lead the line once more against Leeds United tonight.

While Bellingham has primarily featured in various midfield roles this season, Dodds sees potential for him to excel as a frontline player.

“The discussion around the number nine position this summer is inevitable, but we might already have a ready-made solution,” said Dodds.

“At just 18 years old, who knows what he’ll look like in another year? The answer could be right in front of us. Sometimes the solution is staring you in the face, yet you fail to recognize it. Why not?

“He’s athletic, he’s still growing at 18, standing at 6ft3, and he’s a talented footballer.

“In two out of three recent games, he has performed admirably, showcasing excellent movement. Although he could have capitalized better on a couple of chances, his positioning is promising. So, why not consider him as our solution?

“We’ve deliberated on this. With five games remaining, plus the summer break and around six weeks to refine his game, why not consider Jobe as our number nine?”

With Naziry Rusyn sidelined due to a calf injury, loanee Mason Burstow and summer signing Hemir have struggled to make an impact, while Eliezer Mayenda is currently on loan at Hibs. This situation increases the likelihood of Bellingham continuing to lead the line until the end of the season.

Dodds noted, “In two of the last three games, he has shown significant promise, particularly in the first game against Cardiff.

“His movement in the first half of the last match was exceptional, causing disruptions to their defense. We dissect all player performances, especially those of the younger players. However, there are still aspects of Jobe’s game where he needs refinement, particularly in reacting quicker to certain situations. But considering his age and the pivotal role he’s been tasked with, his performance is commendable.

“As someone who observes from the sidelines, I’m eager for more options in that area. While we don’t excessively scout other players – especially in development – it’s crucial to focus on Jobe’s development. In two out of three recent games, he has demonstrated his capability in that role. Who knows, that could be his position next season.”

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