Sunderland, Sunderland could loan out defender Arbenit Xhemajli, says Lee Johnson

Sunderland could loan out defender Arbenit Xhemajli, says Lee Johnson

Sunderland boss Lee Johnson has admitted the club could consider sending Arbenit Xhemajli out on loan before the end of the month.

Xhemajli, 23, has endured an injury-hit time with Sunderland since his eye-catching move in the summer of 2020.

The Kosovan defender suffered an ACL injury in his first season with the club but has since made a return to action, playing 90 minutes in an EFL Trophy clash with Oldham Athletic last month as well as featuring for the club’s U23s side.

However, with Xhemajli looking to get some more game time, Black Cats boss Johnson has now been questioned regarding a potential loan move for the centre-back.

As quoted by the Sunderland Echo, Johnson admitted that a loan move for Xhemajli is one to “consider”.

He said that while they aren’t covered enough at centre-back as it stands, a loan move has “got to be considered”. Here’s what he had to say on the matter:

“Arby is one we’ve got to consider, in terms of what the right path from is.

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“In training I’m really happy for him in terms of he’s not thinking about his knee now, he’s skipping across the ground a lot better, his hips look better, his accelerations and decelerations look a lot better.

“At the same time, we’ve got Callum Doyle in that position at the moment doing really well and performing consistently to a high quality.

“I think a loan has got to be considered. Nothing is off the table with Arby because of that history and his desire to play the games.

Sunderland, Sunderland could loan out defender Arbenit Xhemajli, says Lee Johnson

“At the same time, we’ve got to be covered. At the moment, with Ollie (Younger) gone, we’re not covered. If we get an injury… when we had Luke O’Nien fit you could almost pencil him in as a fourth centre-back, knowing he would play the majority of his games in midfield.

“So again, everything is fluid.

“We’ve go to protect number one first and foremost, and that’s results for Sunderland.”

Current centre-back options…

The addition of Danny Batth is a timely one for Sunderland.

Bailey Wright is currently sidelined and Jordan Willis remains a long-term absentee, so new boy Batth, Callum Doyle, Tom Flanagan and Xhemajli are the only options at centre-back.

As Johnson said, Luke O’Nien can fill in at the heart of defence, but he is best deployed in midfield.

If Xhemajli isn’t going to get much game time, a loan move away could be best for his development. However, it seems as though a move away could be one that comes into fruition later in the window if at all, with Wright absent as it stands.

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