WITH Conor McLaughlin facing a lengthy lay-off as he prepares for hernia surgery, and Luke O’Nien still working his way back to fitness, Max Power has emerged as a potential long-term solution to Sunderland’s problem position at right-back.

Having been moved to the full-back position in last weekend’s draw with Hull City, and remained in the role during Tuesday’s Papa John’s Trophy win over Port Vale, Power is set to remain at right-back when Sunderland travel to AFC Wimbledon tomorrow.

The 27-year-old has made more than 300 senior appearances for Sunderland, Tranmere and Wigan, with almost all coming in his more familiar position of central midfield.

However, he came close to moving to right-back during his time at the DW Stadium, and while his current repositioning remains a temporary measure, Johnson is considering making it a more permanent move.

“We’ve always got to look to not rule out positional changes,” said the Sunderland head coach. “It was interesting talking to Max – at Wigan, he was due to play the whole season at right-back under Cooky (Paul Cook), but then they signed (Reece) James from Chelsea and that changed things at a stroke.

“I played with a player, Bradley Orr, who was a very good midfielder, and then he moved to right-back and became even better. That was because he was comfortable with the game in front of him, and the same is true of Max.

“I think he’s got all the attributes to play at right-back if that’s the way we decide to go. He’s fit, and he can churn out that same pace like a steam train for 96 minutes going forward and back, forward and back.

“He’s a good footballer. He’s a manufactured footballer in a way, and that’s not being derogatory against him, and he’s definitely a player that can play forward play. Tactically, he’s very good, and he’s been another leader for us.

“Ultimately, you want the players to be happy with whatever you ask them to do, and I think with someone like Max, then as long as they’re out playing in the XI, they’ll do anything for you.”

Like Power, Aiden McGeady currently finds himself doing a different job than the one he might have envisaged at the start of the season.

Had Phil Parkinson remained in charge, McGeady would have been training with the Under-23s while looking for new employers this month. Instead, under Johnson, the Irishman has emerged as a key part of Sunderland’s first-choice attack.

“I thought Aiden was really bright in the week,” he said. “He’s been good right the way through. I’d certainly be saying if it wasn’t, but his attitude has been good.

"He’s committed to what we’re after him doing, and I have to say he’s playing a good leadership role."

Sunderland (probable, 4-3-3): Burge; Power, Wright, Willis, McFadzean; Scowen, Leadbitter, Gooch; Diamond, Wyke, McGeady.