Sunderland should give captain's armband to 23-year-old Paddy McNair - now

Sunderland player Paddy McNair in action during the Premier League match between Sunderland and Middlesbrough at Stadium of Light on August 21, 2016 in Sunderland, England.

The Sunderland midfielder was one of the top performers in last season's dismal campaign, despite only playing a small number of games through injury.

Paddy McNair of Sunderland celebrates scoring during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sunderland and Burton Albion at Stadium of Light on April 21, 2018 in Sunderland, England.

Sunderland youngster Paddy McNair had an excellent end to last season, despite his side's failure to avoid relegation to League One.

The central-midfielder has showed great promise in his two years on Wearside, and is expected to be a force in the Black Cats' League One campaign next season.

And with 37-year-old John O'Shea nearing the end of his footballing career - although he is expected to play in League One next season - it would be sensible for manager Jack Ross to look for a new man to take over from O'Shea as Sunderland captain now. 

John O'Shea of Sunderland and Paddy McNair of Sunderland celebrate victory during the EFL Cup Third Round match between Queens Park Rangers and Sunderland at Loftus Road on September 21,...

McNair, however, has had his injury problems in his two years on Wearside - making only 25 appearances in two seasons for Sunderland. Despite O'Shea likely to remain in the Black Cats defence next season, however, passing the armband now would signal that the club is focusing on the future, and not worried about the issues that have ripped apart the club in the last several seasons.

O'Shea announced his retirement from International football with Ireland earlier this month, and his experience would help McNair during a transitional period to ensure his captaincy on Wearside is a successful one.

John O'Shea of Sunderland during the Sky Bet Championship match between Sunderland and Reading at Stadium of Light on December 2, 2017 in Sunderland, England.

Ultimately, manager Ross will have some big decisions to make ahead of the new season. The 41-year-old Scot may choose to stick with his current captain, but at the beginning of a new era on Wearside, it would be an excellent decision to make McNair the new Sunderland skipper.

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