Three changes Sunderland should make after international break

Sunderland are currently 17th in the Premier League table with 26 points from 30 matches, just a point above the relegation zone.

Make Adam Johnson key player

Adam Johnson’s career may not have progressed the way he would have wanted to, but he remains one of the best players in the Sunderland squad.

The 27-year-old winger was recently at the heart of a controversy surrounding his personal life, as reported by BBC Sport, but he is now back and available for selection.

The former Manchester City man needs to be given a key role in the team by new manager Dick Advocaat, who has been in charge of Sunderland for just one competitive game so far.

Start Lee Cattermole

Lee Cattermole has not played a competitive match since March 3 due to suspension, but he is available to feature against Newcastle United after the international break.

The 27-year-old defensive midfielder is someone who would be hugely important in Sunderland’s struggle for survival in the Premier League.

A no-nonsense and combative midfielder, the former Wigan Athletic star knows how to play through such tough times, and his ability to get stuck in will be important for the Black Cats in the final weeks of the 2014-15 Premier League campaign.

Drop Jermain Defoe if need be

Jermain Defoe is arguably the best striker Sunderland have on their books at the moment, but the former West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur star is not doing it.

The 32-year-old has scored just two goals and created only three chances in nine Premier League appearances since moving to Sunderland from Toronto FC in the January transfer window.

Although one could point out that Defoe has not been given enough service from midfield, the fact that he has a shot accuracy of 54% cannot be ignored.

Advocaat should persevere with Defoe for now, but if he continues to misfire, then the Dutchman should take the bold decision of dropping him from the starting line-up.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch