Sunderland: Journalist expects Joe Gelhardt to start on Saturday
Phil Smith has claimed on The Roar podcast that Joe Gelhardt will be in line to start for Sunderland this weekend.
The Lowdown: Mowbray doesn’t have much choice
After a transfer window that flattered to deceive, Tony Mowbray now has to make the most of his young and relatively threadbare squad until the summer window to try to make a play-off push.
Last month, Sunderland were unable to replace Ross Stewart – who has suffered a season-ending injury – and instead have put a lot of pressure on Gelhardt, despite him being just 20 years old.
It’s not just his age which could be a worrying factor for some Sunderland fans, but also that he hasn’t started a competitive league game of first-team football since 3rd September, so he’s surely going to be short of match fitness.
The Latest: Gelhardt in line to start
Despite being so young and likely lacking match sharpness, Mowbray seemingly has no other options at centre-forward so Gelhardt will likely get a start on Saturday against Millwall, in Smith’s view.
He said: “I see it as a very, very similar team, probably with Gelhardt in for Stewart. I don’t think he’s got any choice, but just to say, ‘go on Joe, enjoy. Let’s see what you’re all about’.
Will Sunderland finish in the Play-Offs?
“And that is exciting, listen – Gelhardt’s got a huge reputation in the game and it is exciting to see how it goes.”
The Verdict: Sunderland hoping Gelhardt hits the ground running
It will certainly be a baptism of fire for Gelhardt to make his Sunderland debut away to Millwall as they are currently above the Black Cats in the table, so it will be a difficult task to get anything from the game.
Considering Smith believes Gelhardt arrives with a ‘huge’ reputation, it could be that debuting away from home against a top Championship outfit may not bother the young star, especially given he already has Premier League experience.
However, there will certainly be a lot of natural pressure on him as a striker to fire in the goals in Stewart’s absence, and that may well weigh heavily on his mind. This looks as though it is going to be a case of chucking Gelhardt in at the deep end and seeing if he sinks or swims.