Jordan Willis: The defensive jigsaw piece to Jack Ross' puzzle?

After Sunderland's defensive transfer dealings last summer you'd be forgiven for not getting too hyped up about Jordan Willis signing on a free from Coventry City.

The 24-year-old will have huge pressure on his shoulders, given Sunderland's failed promotion bid last season.

Last summer's incomings in the heart of defence included highly experienced former Dutch International Glenn Loovens, dropping down a league on a free transfer from Sheffield Wednesday.

Loovens amassed 23 Championship appearances in his final season in South Yorkshire, he failed to become amain figure in Jack Ross' defence, only making 11 appearances as the Mackems were consigned to a second season in League One losing out in the play-off final to Charlton Athletic. 

Sunderland also acquired Peterborough United captain Jack Baldwin for around £200k but despite these marquee signings at the back Jack Ross' side never appeared to have a defensive leader throughout the season and ultimately seemed to be one of the reasons they fell short of the automatic promotion places.

Jordan Willis made his Coventry City debut as a 17-year-old in a 4-2 loss to Southampton back in 2011, since then he has racked up 179 appearances for the Sky Blues, scoring four goals.

He began to establish himself within the first team as a right-back at the end of the 2013-14 season before Coventry switched to a three-man back-line,  this led to him becoming one of the first names on the team sheet as a first choice Centre-back. 

Where does Willis fit in Jack Ross' system?

Willis' experience in a three at the back formation makes perfect sense as to why Ross has looked to bring him in, similar to Conor McLaughlin, Willis is a versatile defender who can play different positions, and most likely means we will see three centre-halves be used throughout the course of the season. 

Not only that, he brings vital leadership qualities, captaining Coventry to an EFL Cup triumph in 2017 as well as fighting through some turbulent times at the club. He brings an abundance of character and experience for his age and seems to be what Sunderland have been crying out for at the back.

All things considered, it certainly looks like Sunderland have an exceptional young player on their hands, turning down offers from the Championship to move to the Stadium Of Light and it'll be interesting to see how he develops across the season.

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