Looking Towards Benfica
We kicked off our pre-season with a 2-0 win over locals South Shields, a bigger challenge faces us when we play the Benfica B team next Thursday…
Starting with a win is always a good as it gives the players confidence going forward and more importantly, it gives the young players a chance to prove their worth in front of Jack Ross and hopefully break into the starting line up.
On top of this, it shows the fans just how well some young players have progressed over the course of last season, with Ethan Robson getting himself on the score sheet and putting in an excellent performance.
New signings Lee Burge and Connor McLaughlin played at Mariner Park and put in very decent performances giving us hope that they can be relied on as the season progresses. McLaughlin defended well and was tidy going forward and Burge pulled off some key saves to keep his first clean sheet in a Sunderland shirt.
Another young player who did well was Benji Kimpioka, who looked brave and direct when attacking the South Shield’s defence and he didn’t look like he lacked any confidence at all. This could well and truly be the breakout season for the Swede.
From what I saw on Thursday night, Jack Ross is utilising the players he has so they can all gain fitness and confidence before the season begins. He can also try out new tactics in pre-season, something we desperately need to look at as last season we often lacked a plan B.
Looking forward to the games on the Algarve, we will be playing the Benfica B team next Thursday. They have a load of promising young players. Players like Diogo Mendes, who played a handful of first team games last season and he will be looking to impress his coach Renato Paiva.
Benfica B finished fourth in last season’s LigaPro league, so this will be a tougher test for Sunderland than playing South Shields and the Portuguese side will also be more at home in the searing heat than our players.
Whatever happens I’m sure that the Sunderland fans heading over to the sun will have a good time!