Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray is hopeful the club could maintain their promotion hopes even if Jack Clarke was to leave in January, and the playing style wouldn’t change either.
Sunderland winger Clarke’s tally of nine goals this season has seen him maintain his place as one of the Black Cats’ star players. His impressive return has come in just 16 appearances, and he has found the back of the net in five of Sunderland’s seven league wins in the 2023/24 season.
The Black Cats currently sit in 8th place in the Championship table, just two points off the play-offs, and keeping hold of Clarke seems vital to the team’s promotion hopes. It has been reported that both Brentford and Burnley are keen on signing the player in January, but Mowbray seems very calm about the situation.
Mowbray told The Northern Echo that his team would carry on with their current playing style should the 22-year-old move on. And, if he does, he’s confident their promotion hopes won’t leave with him. He said:
“I would hope we would still be in contention if we lost him.
“We would find someone else and we would deliver the same messages we are doing now,” Mowbray later added. “We are trying to create an identity so that if an individual is suspended or whatever, you do not see much change.”
Mowbray also talked up how important it is that his squad players are able to replicate the job that is done by his Sunderland regulars, and that is always worked on in training. He continued:
“You train your team every day, not just 11 individuals. That means the back-ups know exactly what we do and how we do it in the same way as the player in front of him. Hopefully, you do not see the gap too much if you do make changes.”
Braced for life without the winger?
Sunderland boss Mowbray seems to be prepared for life without Clarke, as it seems certain that bids will be made for the player in January. That is why it makes sense that the club are working in training to have players in the squad that will try to replicate the job Clarke has done for the club.
That will be easier said than done, as replacing a winger who is almost at double figures for the season in November will not be the easiest thing to do. However, planning for the future is what all teams should be doing, and it looks like Sunderland are doing just that.
In the meantime, Clarke will continue to be a very important player for Sunderland in their promotion battle, starting with the upcoming Championship fixture against Birmingham City. Mowbray will expect the player to keep going despite the speculation, whilst also looking towards the future.