April 22, 2024

Sunderland take on Birmingham City in the Championship this afternoon, and one Blues man may be on Michael Beale’s mind.

Sunderland go to Birmingham City, where they will face former manager Tony Mowbray.

The 60-year-old was out of work for only a few weeks after departing the Stadium of Light in December and replacing Wayne Rooney in January.

Since then, Mowbray has overseen five Championship games, winning two, drawing one, and losing two, with his team currently six points above the relegation zone following a midweek victory over Blackburn Rovers.

In January, the Blues signed some promising new players, notably Seung-Ho Paik and former Sunderland midfielder Alex Pritchard, who is injured for today’s game, while Birmingham City kept Jordan James.

Jordan James could dictate the game today

 

Wales have called up teenage Birmingham City midfielder Jordan James for  their Nations League games against Belgium and Poland on 22 and 25  September after injury ruled out Joe Allen. – Urban Radio 94.5 Enugu

 

Atalanta wanted James, 19, in January.

They were finally unable to sign him, and he has remained at St Andrew’s, where he appears to be flourishing under Mowbray’s direction.

James started on the left side of an offensive midfield three against Blackburn Rovers, although he can also fill in for Koji Miyoshi as the number 10.

Mowbray describes James as a player with ‘great attributes’; he is a physically strong player who is very valuable in the transition, which may fit Mowbray’s style perfectly.

He has a keen eye for goal, having scored six from midfield in the Championship this season, several of which came from the edge of the box, where the Welsh international prefers to drive forward and hit the bottom corner.

How Michael Beale can limit James’ influence vs Sunderland

James is a good player both on and off the field. With the ball at his feet, he can beat his man or make a wonderful pass, so Beale will need a player close to him at all times.

If James starts on the left today, Trai Hume must restrict his effect, and after another strong performance in midweek, the Northern Irishman should embrace the challenge of James.

However, if James plays more infield, this could be a problem.

This season, Sunderland’s center midfield has primarily consisted of Dan Neil and Pierre Ekwah, with Neil pulling the strings and Ekwah providing more defensive work.

Though Ekwah’s game has been called into question at times this season, Mowbray may see it as a possible weakness in the team, allowing James to roam freely in the no.10 position to see what damage he can do.

It will be intriguing to observe how Sunderland line up today, as well as whether Beale tries to counter James’ midfield danger.

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