Tom Flanagan was left disappointed on his home-soil debut as the Lads went down 1-0 to Darlington last night, but the defender has taken some positives from the run-out: “I played the full game in Portugal and got another 90 minutes in the tank tonight, but that’s pre-season and it does exactly what it says on the tin," explained Flanny. "I’d have happily played another 90 minutes if it meant we won the game, as that’s the disappointment from tonight. I know it’s all about fitness at this stage and we have to take what we can from the game, but it would have been nice to come away with a win. Credit to them, they were up and at it and during the first 15 to 20 minutes they were exactly how we should have been, so we let ourselves down in that respect. It was a good challenge for us, though, and exactly what you want from a pre-season game.“We’ll go again on Saturday and hopefully we can get that first win.”
Jack Ross didn’t mince his words when asked about want-away duo Whabi Khazri and Lamine Kone. The pair look set to move on amid interest from St Etienne and Strasbourg respectively and the new SAFC boss made it clear that at least one of them is desperate to be out the door: “Khazri could go but nothing is agreed,” explained Ross. “It’s a challenging period but that’s the job. Lamine doesn’t want to be here, so has been left out. That’s where we are at.”
Meanwhile, many were surprised at the sight of Anton Forrester lining up for the Lads against Darlington last night. None more so than fans of Port Vale where the forward spent two years scoring just 4 goals in 41 appearances. Remarks on social media were less than complimentary toward the 24 year old SAFC trialist with many claiming his injury record is atrocious: “just cant stay fit though and that's the unfortunate reality of him,” said one Vale fan. But amongst the many shocked reactions there were a few complimentary ones. “Shame how someone who is genuinely decent can have their career ripped to shreds by injuries. I hope he gets a decent club and does well there”. So there you have it. Seems the lad is a mixed bag with supporters. Let’s hope the lad impresses enough in pre-season to earn a permanent move to Wearside.
Finally, youngster Sam Greenwood has left the club and moved on to pastures new by joining Arsenal. The 16 year old youth team player has impressed many over the last few years scoring a hat-full at under 16 and under 18 level. He’ll sign a professional contract at the Gunners once he turns 17: “Today is the start of a new chapter in my life signing for Arsenal and I can’t wait to get started,” said Greenwood. “I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead. Leaving Sunderland after 10 years the club I love and support was a very hard decision, I have met some special people along the way ,big thanks to SAFC and all coaches past and present for everything they have done for me . I will never forget my roots."