Sunderland lost the EFL Checkatrade Trophy final on Sunday, as everyone now knows, but this season has always been about promotion from League One, and nothing else matters.
While it was nice to have a Wembley day out, and savour the spectacular atmosphere of over 40,000 Sunderland fans in the Capital, the most important thing was not losing anyone to injury, in a game that mattered not one iota to their promotion aims.
So, naturally, it stands to reason that with Jack Ross playing a full team in the final, an injury would hit one of his players.
When Reece James limped off the field, it seemed almost inevitable that something like that would happen.
With a serious injury to Duncan Watmore already having an impact, the last thing Ross needed was another player to add to the treatment room.
The result, should James not shrug off the problem, will see the manager turning to another youngster to come into the side — albeit one he has high hopes for.
20-year-old Denver Hume came on at Wembley to replace the left-back, and is the most likely to be in the starting lineup at Accrington tomorrow, should James be ruled out.
Speaking about Hume, Ross told the Sunderland Echo: “He’s been in my thoughts for a while now since he came back fully fit.
“For him, I think he’s had a really good season. I know that sounds so strange because he had a big chunk [that he missed] through injury but when he got the opportunity to play in the first team he really grabbed it, he was really good.
“He was very close on Sunday [to starting]. To perform as he did was brilliant, he had a real impact on the game and that was terrific.”
So it seems Ross thinks any injury to James will be countered by Hume, but it should not have come to that.
It is easy to say things in hindsight, but some of the first team players should not have been risked on Sunday, regardless of the occasion.
If they had lost two or three key starters in a bid to win the trophy, it would have jeopardised the Black Cats’ whole season.
In many respects, it is a blessing for the club that the distractions of other competitions are in their rear-view mirror now, with focus solely on winning their final games and cementing an automatic promotion place.
Nothing else will do.
What do you think, Sunderland fans? Would you have rested some of your regulars for the Trophy final? Let us know your thoughts…
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