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Northern Ireland defender Tom Flanagan and Scotland goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin reckon that playing in League One with Sunderland won’t effect thier their international prospects. “When I sat down with the people who look after me, and my dad plays a massive part in that, we weren’t overly keen on League One for those international reasons,” Flanagan said. “You want to be as high as you can. But I don’t think, that when it comes to the teamsheet, and people see Tom Flanagan, Sunderland AFC, I don’t think anyone will bat an eyelid. It’s Sunderland. I don’t think it will inhibit me. If I’m playing every week and we’re doing well, then that means people are playing well and I think we will get the recognition.” McLaughlin added: “I certainly don’t see moving back to League One, at this club anyway, as a backwards step in any shape or form. There were opportunities to go to different clubs in higher divisions but this is a huge football club and so in that respect, I don’t see it as a backward step at all. You look at our captain Charlie Mulgrew, he played for Blackburn in League One (last season). If a player has the quality, it will shine through. But that players in the international scene want to come here shows the stature.”

Jack Ross reckons Stewart Donald’s enthusiasm and fan engagement can only be a good thing. You know what, we agree. He said: “I don’t mind it. Stewart and I get on well from a personality point of view. Take away the relationship as an owner and a manager, and we got on well from the first time we met. I like him, so that helps. It’s a good starting point. He has an enthusiasm and passion for it, and I would rather that than somebody that didn’t have it. The expectation would be at this club anyway, regardless of whether it was ramped up or played down. I don’t really mind the expectation and ambition. I’ve always been prepared to meet that head on. It’s up to me to prove myself good enough to deal with it. I don’t think you should shy away from it, and if I wanted to shy away from it, I wouldn’t have taken this job on because I know there’s always going to be an expectation and a pressure on whoever is managing this club. No matter what division it is in. The supporters are that passionate about the club, they want it to win every week. As the season unravels, whether it’s on a good day or a bad day, I think you’ll get the same consistent answer from me. The expectation and pressure is always going to be there, it’s just about how you deal with it and use it in a positive way.”

Meanwhile, Rennes and St Etienne are still battling it out to sign Wahbi Khazri from Sunderland. Let’s hope we get rid of him soon and spend the money wisely. Rennes coach Sabri Lamouchi said: “I know the president and the club have not stopped trying to convince Wahbi. As far as I know, he has not signed somewhere yet and has not told us no. Unfortunately, we are not the only ones.” President Oliver Letang added: “We are waiting for an answer. It should be decided this week, one way or the other.”

In other news, Duncan Watmore has been chatting about his cruciate knee ligament recovery. He was originally injured in December 2016, got back to full fitness last season but then suffering a reoccurrence soon after his return and we’ve not seen him since. Here’s hoping he’ll be a big player for us this coming season. He said: “It has been a long time coming. I have been out on the grass now for a couple of months just building myself back up and I feel really good. I’ve recently been doing some change of direction stuff which is really important after such a serious knee injury. That is probably what I need to build my confidence back up the most so I can get those sharp changes onto my left foot. But I watched some footage back and I’m starting to feel as though it is natural. That’s what I need because it gives me confidence so I’m feeling really positive, it is great to be back and I’m getting closer to training.”


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