Portsmouth clash could be make-or-break for Sunderland's Denver Hume

Sunderland manager Jack Ross during a press conference at the Academy of Light on March 27, 2019 in Sunderland, England.

Denver Hume struggled badly in Sunderland's first two games of the League One season thanks largely to Jack Ross's tactics.

Denver Hume of Sunderland during the Sky Bet League 1 match between Sunderland and Oxford United at the Stadium Of Light, Sunderland on Saturday 3rd August 2019.

Denver Hume must have been wiping his brow with relief when the under-fire Jack Ross switched to an orthodox 4-4-2 for Sunderland’s Carabao Cup clash with Accrington Stanley on Tuesday night.

The young defender might not have featured at the Crown Ground as the Black Cats sealed their place in round two with a 3-1 win. But Ross’s decision to ditch his ill-fated three-man defence after just two games of the new season bodes well not just for the Wearside giants as a whole but for the diminutive full-back from Northumberland too.


The former St Mirren boss certainly threw Hume in at the deep end for Sunderland’s opening fixtures of the League One campaign. The 21-year-old academy graduate looked all at sea against Oxford and Ipswich, drowning in an unfamiliar and ill-suited wing-back role.

Hume was even hooked at half time in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Portman Road.

Sunderland manager Jack Ross applauds the fans on the final whistle during the Sky Bet League One match between Peterborough United and Sunderland at ABAX Stadium on April 22, 2019 in...

The wing-back role is a specialist position that requires not only the legs and the technical ability to provide quality in the final third but also the positional awareness to avoid being exposed at the other end too. Hume, with just 11 first-team appearances under his belt, was always unlikely to adapt immediately to an unfamiliar and demanding.

Fortunately, with Ross expected to stick to a four-man backline against Portsmouth on Saturday, Hume should finally be given the chance to prove himself in a more natural position at the Stadium of Light.

But the pressure is on.

With the Sunderland Echo pointing out that a new left-back is top of Ross’s priorities with a fortnight to go before the transfer window shuts, Hume really cannot afford another out of sorts display when Pompey come to town.

Denver Hume of Sunderland scores the winning penalty during the Checkatrade Trophy Northern Group A match between Sunderland and Stoke City U21 at Stadium of Light on September 4, 2018 in...

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