Sunderland close in on 27-year-old midfielder

Sunderland are close to securing a deal for Forest Green midfielder Carl Winchester, as reported by the Sunderland Echo.

The Black Cats were held 0-0 by Northampton Town yesterday in Lee Johnson’s fifth game in charge, but he will now be able to shape the squad a little with the transfer window open. One of his primary targets is Winchester, with whom he worked at Oldham Athletic.

The 27-year-old, who began his career with Linfield, played 120 matches for the Latics in League One before his move to Cheltenham Town, and was even called up by Northern Ireland earlier in his career. His recent years have seen him as a key part of Mark Cooper’s Forest Green Rovers side, who currently top League Two.

In further links to Johnson, Winchester also played for his father Gary whilst at Whaddon Road, so he is a player the family know well. He’s an industrious midfielder with seven goals and one assist over the last season-and-a-half at the New Lawn.

With Johnson seemingly preferring a 4-3-3 where players allow, Winchester would be a direct option in the holding role currently occupied by Grant Leadbitter, or as part of the double-sixes in a 4-2-3-1 formation, seen in the second half against Northampton Town.

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Dare I say, this would be seen as an underwhelming capture by the Black Cats. Winchester has never played above League One and isn’t the sort of player that will get pulses racing.

Some of the feedback on SB Nation was not hugely complimentary, but it is harsh to judge a player on his previous record alone. I’ve seen Winchester play on several occasions and he’s always looked to have a certain quality, controlling games from deep. 

No, he isn’t Championship quality, but right now neither are Sunderland. Lee Johnson must be given certain freedom to recruit without fear of backlash, otherwise the evolution will never really get off the ground. The 


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