Dion Sanderson: The future star in the Wolves defence?
Sanderson spend the second half of the 2019/20 season on loan at Cardiff City. (Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

Wolverhampton Wanderers' number one target this summer is likely to be another central defender, with Conor Coady, Willy Boly and Max Kilman their only three who are 100% comfortable playing in front of Rui Patricio.

With Leander Dendoncker and Romain Saiss - both predominantly midfielders - slotting into Nuno Espirito Santo's defence when called upon this season, the desire for another centre-back this summer is clear for all to see.

Teenagers, Lewis Richards and Nigel Lonwijk, have both been named on the first-team bench on occasions this season, but yet to feature. Whilst both have impressed for the U23's this season, the lack of first-team centre-defenders is a clear indication that the club must bring in another.

Dion Sanderson is one name that will be compelled into the conversation this summer, currently plying his trade at Sunderland in League One,

Sanderson joined the club at the age of 10 whilst playing for a local sports club. After 10 years in the academy, he first tasted like in the club's first team during the pre-season tour of China in 2019 before starting the Carabao Cup clash with Aston Villa.

More encounters for the U23's followed before he spent the remaining months of the 2019/20 season for Cardiff City. This season, he has been helping Sunderland attempt to return to the Championship.

How has the defender done at the Stadium of Light?

Sanderson joined the Black Cats in the summer, with the plan being the Englishman adding to the valuable first-team minutes he picked up at Cardiff last season.

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Under Phil Parkinson, Sanderson started only two games and there were rumours of him returning to Wolves after the loan move not materialising as both parties would have hoped for. However, following Lee Johnson's appointment at the start of December and the unfortunate injury to Jordan Willis, he has featured more alongside Luke O'Nien as they now sit fifth in the play-offs.

After replacing Conor McLaughlin in the 77th minute at Lincoln City- a 4-0 win for the Black Cats, Sanderson went onto start the following three league games before not featuring again until the 2-1 home defeat to Plymouth Argyle.

For the next three games - the 1-0 away win at Ipswich Town and the two 2-2 draws with Gillingham and MK Dons - the 6'2 defender featured for a combined 33 minutes.

However, with fellow central defender Willis suffering a tendon injury at Shrewsbury Town, Sanderson has featured in every minute since then, helping Sunderland to victories over Doncaster Rovers, Burton Albion and Fleetwood Town.

Is he first-team ready?

At the Pirelli Stadium last weekend, the defender opposed himself well against the League One strugglers, completing 87% of his passes, winning four duels and succeeding with three of his aerial battles against the likes of Lucas Akins.

Come to the conclusion of the 2020/21 campaign, Sanderson will have had over a year of first-team football, clocking up over 30 appearances for both Cardiff and Sunderland.

Is that enough for him to warrant a slot in Nuno's defence next season? Probably not, but with rumours linking the Wanderers with highly-rated Club Brugge defender, Odilon Kossounou, increasing recently, opting with Sanderson to feature in the first team wouldn't be the worse idea.

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He's English, strong, tall and capable of distributing the ball out of defence. Whilst at Sunderland, he has played in a back three and a back four and is already familiar with the vision and style of play at the club.

Former-Wolves forward, Stephen Elliott, discussed the Wolverhampton-born's future following his impressive individual performance against Burton at the weekend on Twitter.

Being compared to a triple-Premier League and one-time UEFA Champions League winner doesn't come to players who lack quality. The coaching staff at Molineux may decide another loan move in the Championship- or even abroad- would suit his development better.

There is no rush for him to be ready just yet. Boly (30) and Coady (27) have just enjoyed their birthday's in February and have years left in them. But having a ready-made, academy graduate defender at their fingertips would be the perfect solution when the time comes to insert a new name in the defence.

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