Chris Coleman believes a change of luck is all that is needed to see Callum McManaman establish himself as a key player for Sunderland.
The 26-year-old signed from West Brom on deadline day but has struggled for form and consistency and infamously saw red for a second booking in Coleman’s first game in charge at home to Reading.
A switch to wing-backs then saw him limited to a bench role but a change in formation has seen him drafted back in and McManaman has started the last two games.
Saturday sees a change of focus to FA Cup action as Sunderland travel down the A19 to take on north east rivals Middlesbrough.
The Black Cats are 4.75 to win, with the draw 3.40 and Boro the 1.80 favourites.
McManaman could again get the nod as Coleman aims to build momentum in his side’s survival fight and the ex-Wales boss admits he has been impressed by the wideman’s attitude as he looks to work his way back to form.
“I think Callum missed pre-season and it is always tough for players when they do that, always playing catch-up,” said Coleman.
“He got sent off against Reading, then I changed formation to go with wing-backs rather than wingers.
“So he has suffered really. He has worked his socks off in training, he really has. He hasn’t been a moment’s problem. He has worked really hard.
“He has been unlucky to be fair, you are always playing catch-up after missing pre-season and he has had a suspension too when we changed formation.”