Sunderland complete signing of Northern Ireland midfielder Carl Winchester

by Joshua Bunting

Sunderland have completed the signing of Northern Ireland midfielder Carl Winchester from Forest Green Rovers on a initial two-and-a-half-year deal. 

The move reunites Sunderland boss Lee Johnson with the midfielder having previously managed the 27-year-old at Oldham Athletic between 2013 and 2015.

He joined Forest Green in 2018 after a spell at Cheltenham Town who he also captained.

During his time at The New Lawn Stadium, Winchester rifled in 11 goals from his 114 appearances for the Green.

Winschester, started his career at Danske Bank Premiership holders Linfield, becomes the Black Cats first January arrival and the first signing of the Johnson era on Wearside.

He links up with fellow Northern Ireland Internationals Conor McLaughlin, Tom Flanagan and Will Grigg at the Stadium of Light ahead of the second half of the season.

The combative midfielder has one cap for Northern Ireland that came against Wales in May 2011.

On signing for the Black Cats Winchester said "It’s a massive club and once I heard about the interest, there was only one place I wanted to come."

"I’ll give my all for the team and I’ll go out there and wear my heart on my sleeve.

"The Head Coach believes in me and I believe in myself I’m coming into my prime, so I’m hoping I can settle in well with the lads and kick on from there."

Black Cats boss Johnson went on to add "After assessing our squad and establishing the profile of midfielder we wanted to bring in, we evaluated all the elements, inclusive of the data, and felt that Carl was the right player to add to our squad."

"He is a good player who is in the prime of his career, and his versatility means he can play in a number of positions, ensuring he will also bring depth to our squad.

"When he was a young player at Oldham, every top club wanted him, which shows the potential he has always had. He has represented some good clubs, but in terms of division, we believe he has been playing below his natural level.”

Johnson watched his side draw 1-1 with Hull City on Saturday evening at the Stadium of Light with Aiden McGeady equalising after Reece Burke had put the Tigers ahead.

Sunderland are currently 10th in the League One table three points behind Accrington Stanley who occupy the final League One spot with the Black Cats having played 19 games.