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ANALYSIS: Winchester has the right tools to hit the giddy heights at Sunderland

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Following Carl Winchester’s transfer to Sunderland, Forest Green Rovers’ reporter Ash Loveridge gives the lowdown on the Black Cats’ midfielder in an in-depth interview with Sunderland FC.

Ash, thank you for your time. What type of midfielder have Sunderland recruited?

AL: “One I think Black Cats’ fans will embrace fully. He has bags of ability and leaves everything out on the pitch – a real heart on the sleeve type of guy – the complete midfielder.”

What are Carl’s core attributes and main strengths?

AL: “‘Winniesta’, as Forest Green fans affectionately dubbed him, is an all-action, box-to-box midfielder with telescopic like legs and balletic feet. Equally comfortable as a holding midfielder, defensive shield or an attacking midfielder at the tip of a diamond.”

He has been a mainstay in FGR’s line-up, just how important of a player was he for the Gloucestershire club?

AL: “The heartbeat of the team from the moment he arrived. He was the glue that helped drive his side on to a League Two Play-Off place in his first season and a vital component on Rovers’ assault on automatic promotion this season.”

Carl has captained both FGR and Cheltenham Town. What type of leader is he?

AL: “Carl is a quiet leader and lets his football ability on the pitch do the talking.”

Mark Cooper and Lee Johnson have both stated that he has been playing below his natural level. How much will that help him adapt to a new club and a new league?

AL: “The words of encouragement will be a tonic, but Carl is a confident lad in his own right and he will back himself to shine at the Stadium of Light and become a firm fans’ favourite.”

And although League One is a step up, are you confident he can go beyond that?

AL: “Yes, Mark Cooper has gone on the record to say he feels he can play in the Championship. His old boss is a revered coach and has helped take Carl to another level. Cooper has moulded a raft of players during his near five-year tenure with the likes of Reece Brown, Liam Kitching, Ethan Pinnock and Christian Doidge all plying their trade at Championship level.

Finally, why should Sunderland fans be excited about Carl’s arrival?

AL: “Lee Johnson is an erudite coach and knows what he’s getting with Carl – a player who can help you get out of League One. Sunderland fans have good reason to feel optimistic about this January capture.”

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