Attack, attack, attack: Why it's the perfect time for Sunderland to swap Jones for Yedlin
DeAndre Yedlin has plenty to offer to this Sunderland team. | Photo: Shields Gazette

Attack, attack, attack: Why it's the perfect time for Sunderland to swap Jones for Yedlin

The Black Cats' first choice right-back has been poor recently, and a change in the position is due.

Ameé Ruszkai

It's been the same old struggling season for Sunderland, which has led to many calling for a reshuffle in the squad in the summer.

With so many players in the team simply not good enough to be playing at a level higher than a relegation dogfight in the Premier League, it is no wonder why the Black Cats find themselves down there come this time of every year.

Jordi Gomez, Liam Bridcutt, Danny Graham and Will Buckley have all been shipped out on loan to Championship sides - a level which matches their ability - and the next name on many people's list is Billy Jones.

The 28-year-old right-back has made his way up the English football pyramid, grafting his way to the top through spells with Crewe Alexandra, Preston North End and West Bromwich Albion, but he appears to have hit a wall on Wearside.

A good footballer yes, but Jones is only slightly better than those four names that have been sent down to the second tier for the time being. He would excel at that level - and has in the past - but the Premier League is seemingly just out of his comfort zone.

The former Baggie has done a good job so far this season, with his work ethic arguably his stand out trait. His commitment to the team cannot be faulted, with him playing in any position asked of him to help the side, and his efforts have seen him consistently 'do a job' like many would say about James Milner back in his highly-praised Manchester City days.

However, his flaws have shone through in recent weeks through some sloppy performances. Last week was the straw that broke the camel's back for many. Jones was poor in the 1-0 defeat to the Citizens on Tuesday, and even poorer in the 2-2 draw with Liverpool four days later.

Billy Jones' commitment cannot be questioned - but his recent displays can be. | Photo: Getty
Billy Jones' commitment cannot be questioned - but his recent displays can be. | Photo: Getty

In the latter, it was his mistake of dwelling on the ball for too long that led to the Reds doubling their lead in the game and five minutes later he was taken off the field - with DeAndre Yedlin his replacement.

Now, the call from the fans is for Yedlin to start ahead of Jones against Manchester United on Saturday, and it's a call that Sam Allardyce could answer.

Time for Yedlin?

That call would be answered with good reason. Jones has been particularly sluggish as of late, which is understandable given that he has featured 23 times in the league for his side. Only Yann M'Vila has featured more this season - appearing 24 times - and he has shown similar fatigue recently, this following plenty of plaudits too.

The defensive errors that are creeping into Jones' game because of his tiredness could start to prove costly as we enter a crucial period of the season, with Jermain Defoe handing the team a get out of jail card after his mistake on Saturday.

Yedlin, admittedly, carries the same risk of error in his game - if not a greater one - but he can at least offer something that Jones cannot; a genuine attacking threat.

Regularly deployed as a winger for the USMNT, the American international has incredible pace and some terrific flair about him. He can whip a ball into the box well, burst into the area to pose problems and has a powerful shot to boast too.

The Sunderland fans want to get behind a team who play adventurous, attacking football. When their side park the bus and look to defend for points, the mood can turn hostile and poisonous, and this diffusing onto the pitch is the last thing that the club need right now.

On the other hand, when the fans see their team really going at the big boys as they scrap for survival, the mood elevates and the 12th man that the Black Cats desperately need begins to play a key role.

Allardyce has tried to fix the defence, just as Dick Advocaat before him did too, but it's just not happening. Lamine Kone in the centre of defence and Jan Kirchhoff in a holding midfield role is as safe as things are going to yet, and so no more tinkering is required.

Instead of trying to rectify problems that are simply insolvable right now, the manager must turn his attention to the attack. Clean sheets may win games, but goals do too, and Patrick van Aanholt bombing down the left while Yedlin bombs down the right increases the potency of the attack and means more chances will be created for Defoe to convert.

Feeding the England striker is key if Sunderland want to stay up, and so bolstering the attack therefore becomes a priority.

With Jeremain Lens finding form, Adam Johnson having just hit the back of the net, and new boys Dame N'Doye and Wahbi Khazri finding their feet, it is the perfect time for Jones to be dropped for Yedlin as the Black Cats look to stay up by playing on the front foot.