Sunderland right-back Billy Jones could be set for a stern examination of his capabilities when Swansea City – and more specifically Jefferson Montero – visit the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Montero is enjoying a blistering start to the Premier League season and has already dazzled world-class full-backs Branislav Ivanovic and Daryl Janmaat with his speed and trickery.
The Ecuador international gave Ivanovic the runaround as Swansea drew 2-2 at Chelsea on the opening day of the season and was on the end of two bookable first-half challenges from Janmaat during a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United last weekend, earning the Dutchman an early exit.
Jones – as Sunderland’s starting right-back in their opening two fixtures – appears next on Montero’s list of potential victims and Swansea manager Garry Monk is delighted with his in-form winger’s flying start.
“He’s done very well,” said Monk. “He’s come back very positive and is an example of the confidence and the team stepping up because of the competition [in the squad].
“He’s been excellent and hopefully gets better. They all are contributing very well but we’re looking for improvement.”
Montero’s impressive performances have even seen him linked with a Liberty Stadium exit before the end of the transfer window, but Monk stressed: “I’m not anticipating anything.
“It took me a long time to get this squad where we want it to be. We’ve taken a step forward and to let that hard work to go to waste would be criminal.
“No-one is for sale, we’re looking forward to the season, the players are looking forward to going forward with Swansea and this is the squad I want.”
Sunderland have made a dismal start to the season – losing 4-2 and 3-1 to Leicester City and Norwich City respectively – prompting Dick Advocaat to arrange a crisis meeting last Sunday.
And new arrival Yann M’Vila, who made his debut against Norwich, says his side need to work on the mental side of their game.
“Football is a game played in the head, above all,” he told the Sunderland Echo. I think that if you are always strong in the head, then you’re going to lose fewer games.
“You must be constantly concentrating because at this level, it might be only one or two steps to get in a better position which makes the difference in defending a goal. That might be enough.
“If one of my team-mates goes forward, then what do I have to do? If you communicate and concentrate, then you prevent the goals or the mistakes.”
Swansea have Ki Sung-yueng back in contention after the midfielder recovered from a hamstring problem, while Adam Johnson (shoulder) remains sidelined for the hosts.
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