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#11 - Carlos EdwardsResurgent Carlos Edwards could be the man to unlock defences for Sunderland in the weeks ahead, says Ricky Sbragia.
The winger's ability to stretch Manchester City defenders was one of the few bright spots of a game ruined by George McCartney's 15th minute sending off last Saturday.

And the Sunderland manager feels that Edwards could have a key role to play in the run-in.

"Carlos is the one player we've got who can get behind teams and that's a valuable quality to have," said the Sunderland boss.

"We've got Andy Reid who who can put a great ball in from the wing, Steed Malbranque who can thread a lovely pass or show great vision, but Carlos is the one who has the pace to get in behind teams to put a cross over and that's something we've lacked generally."

Malbranque is the Premier League's joint leading assist-maker and has been Sunderland's preferred option on the right wing this season.

But Edwards, whose time in the top flight has been largely blighted by injury, has been looking more and more like the player who caught the eye as Sunderland surged to the Championship title two seasons ago.

And Sbragia believes if the winger can accentuate the positives of his game and cut out the negatives, he could still be a Premiership force.

He said: "Carlos can take it past players and he's got a long throw as well that we can use. He gets us up the field with his speed and his ability to carry the ball.

"He's got that ability to get past his man and get to the byline.

"We're going to need all our squad players and Carlos is just one of those players but he does give us a good option and if he hits his best form he'll cause any defence problems."

Edwards has another chance to push his first-team claims this weekend when he is expected to start in Trinidad & Tobago's World Cup qualifier against Honduras in Port of Spain.

The winger has travelled to the Caribbean with Kenwyne Jones and Dwight Yorke.

Edwards said: "This is a very important fixture for us because we allowed two points to slip away in El Salvador and now we have no other option but to rebound.

"As a team we have to remain positive. We know we have a difficult task after that when we travel to face the United States in the middle of next week.

"And we have to believe that we can achieve the best possible results. We've got to take it one match at a time and we need to take our responsibilities seriously if we're going to pull it off. "

Edwards admits that the absence of the suspended Dwight Yorke will be a big blow to his country's hopes.

He feels too that a four-match ban for the veteran Sunderland midfielder for his sending off was far too harsh and expects to see it reduced on appeal.

"Dwight missing the Honduras game is a big blow," said Edwards.

"But the four-game ban is massive. We couldn't understand it. There's been some banter being thrown around and we could have the odd laugh about it but there's no doubt that he will be missed.

"He's been very disappointed, but he's keeping positive over the whole thing.

"The main thing for him is the team's chances of going all the way and that's our biggest concern right now.

"I think we all believe that we have what it takes and even if he's not there on the pitch with us we must step up and bring home the results that will get us there.

"We are all hopeful that the appeal can go in our favour for Dwight's sake and for the team in general. All fingers are crossed at the moment."