Sunderland Echo

Winchester's quality will surprise some people, says Cats coach Lee

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Lee Johnson says Carl Winchester's quality will 'surprise' people as he nears a Sunderland debut.

Winchester signed a two-and-a-half-year deal on Wearside last Sunday, but was cup tied for the 2-0 Papa John's Trophy win over Port Vale on Tuesday night.

The former Forest Green captain played for Johnson as a youngster at Oldham Athletic, and the Sunderland

head coach is confident that he is going to make an impact at the Stadium of Light.

Johnson also outlined where Winchester will fit into his plans, citing three positions that he is confident that the 27-year-old can perform to a high standard.

Winchester is expected to ease Grant Leadbitter's workload amid an intense schedule, but the pair are also likely to line up alongside each other along the way.

"I think people will be surprised by how good a player he is," Johnson said.

"I think he's a player who has been playing below his level in terms of league standard for the last four or five years.

"That's no disrespect to Cheltenham Town or Forest Green, I just think they've had in their squad a League

One at least, but more than likely a Championsh­ip-quality player.

"I think he brings an assured quality on the ball.

"He can play forward and drive forward with the ball when the space is there.

"He has good vision and his execution is good, though it could still be better.

"He's very versatile as well, he can slot in at rightback.

"He's comfortabl­e dictating the game when you're in the ascendancy and he's comfortabl­e being the one who has to step up and be the hustler in trying to win the ball back in advanced positions.

"I think he gives us flexibilit­y in the squad and how we want to play," Johnson added.

"We've talked about Grant Leadbitter who is a fantastic player, but whose turned 35 and we potentiall­y have 28/29 games left in the season in such a short spell of time.

"It might be difficult for him to play all the games.

"But it's definitely not one or the other, they can play together because they are good players.

"It depends on the shape and then the attributes you require within that shape."

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