With Sunderland Spartans having reached the midway point in their season, below are four key issues which head coach Pete Nichol will need to address before their next game on January 28.

The size of the squad

With such a small pool of players to pick a starting eleven from, coach Nichol has been forced into playing players on both sides of the ball, meaning offensive players are having to line up on defence and vice versa. A standard American Football team has three core units; the offence, the defence, and special teams.

Both the offence and defence will have players who only play either offence or defence whereas special teams are made up of players who, more often than not, are not key players for their team.

Any American Football team is allowed to have a maximum of 53 active players in their squad but coach Nichol does not have this luxury.

At the last Spartans game, coach Nichol had only 18 players to choose from whereas their opponents, Edinburgh Napier Knights, brought over 40 players with them, putting the Spartans at an immediate disadvantage.

Without more players available for selection, the Spartans could struggle in the second half of the season.

Home struggles

The Spartans have played four games so far this season, once away and three times at home. Of those three home games, the Spartans have only managed to win once, in a close fought game against Northumbria Mustangs.

This means that in the second half of the season, the Spartans are scheduled to travel to Northumbria, Glasgow, and Edinburgh in search of victory.

Considering that the Spartans lost 42-0 to Glasgow Tigers and 35-0 against Edinburgh Napier Knights at home, it will be incredibly difficult for this Spartans team to come away with anything from these away games.

Team injuries

A contributing factor to the Spartans poor season so far is the lengthy injury list. From the very beginning of the season, coach Nichol has not been able to field a full-strength team, with a new player seeming to suffer injury as each week passes.

The offensive line has been particularly blighted by injury, meaning that coach Nichol has had to shuffle his deck every single weak, preventing him from settling on a first choice side.

However, with several key players scheduled to return to the side after the Christmas/New Years break, there is plenty to be optimistic about. If these players return and are able to remain fit for the entirety of the season, the Spartans may just surprise a few people.

Attendance issues

One issue which has frustrated the Spartans coaching team so far this year has been poor attendance at training and playbook meetings. In a sport like American Football, each of these sessions is vitally important towards success.

Unfortunately, several Spartans have missed key dates for work commitments or for personal reasons, often leaving coach Nichol shorthanded along the line of scrimmage.

With key playing personnel not in attendance, the Spartans will find it hard to consistently pose a threat to opposing teams.