April 24, 2024

Michael Beale is optimistic that the signings of Leo Hjelde and Callum Styles have resolved Sunderland’s left-back difficulties.

Dennis Cirkin and Aji Alese have both been sidelined for the most of the season due to long-term injuries, making the left side of the Black Cats’ back four a troublesome area.

 

I can't wait to play in front of the fans" | Callum Styles Signs |  Interview - YouTube

Trai Hume has been transferred to left-back for the past month or so, but the Northern Ireland international is more naturally a right-back, and while he has performed admirably out of position, he is far more at ease on the right side.

Hjelde, who joined Sunderland from Leeds United, can play left-back or centre-back, whereas Styles, who arrived from Barnsley, is a midfielder who can also play left-back or left wing-back.

 

Marco Gabbiadini reacts to Sunderland signing Leo Hjelde - BBC Sport

 

Beale believes the duo provide the natural left-footed balance Sunderland has missed on occasion this season.

The Black Cats’ head coach stated, “We’ve had a major issue on the left side of defence. Trai has gone over there, and Jenson (Seelt) has come in at right-back, and both have performed admirably, but balance would be ideal.

“We had it for a while when Aji came back in shape, but we lost it after a few games.

“Leo is an option for us, and I believe Callum can play as a left-back or a left wing-back, and because he’s used to playing in midfield, he can move diagonally into that position, which helps Jack (Clarke), who prefers to stay wide.”

“He can certainly play in a two- or three-man midfield on the left side. He’s a player I’ve been following for a while.

“I know the club has been interested for a long. He was someone who piqued my interest when the club mentioned him, and I met with him one-on-one to discuss joining a previous club, so I’m thrilled to be working with him.

Hjelde, who has spent the last week training with his new teammates, will look to make his Sunderland debut at left-back in today’s Tees-Wear derby against Sunderland.

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