Jack Ross has revealed how he values Paddy McNair and how highly he rates him but is aware that he's on the radar of a number of clubs: “I have a real appreciation of how good a player he is, that comes from what I’ve watched but also the people I know well in the Northern Ireland set-up and the conversations I’ve had with them. In a perfect world I’d love to have him in my squad and team next year and he would be an integral part of that but equally, I’m not naive and know that he’s a player who will be attractive to teams further up the football ladder than us at the movement. That’s always a consideration for a player and that will be something that the player and club will decide over the coming period. Certainly from a football point of view as a manager I think it goes without saying that I’d love to have him in my squad. Realistically, I have to plan for both scenarios because you never know, and I know like most players they are keen to play as high as they can. We are where we are in terms of league position and that’s something we have to be realistic about as well.”
In somewhat related news, Stewart Donald has confessed that not many players want to stay at the club for the coming season: “There are very, very few players who have indicated they wish to stay with the club next season. So it is fair to expect a lot of comings and goings in the next few weeks. We do not need to sell any player who shows a desire to stay – but there aren’t many of those! Reality is that not many of our current playing squad fancy playing League One football regardless of how or why we find ourselves at this level – albeit the agents are talking for some of them! I am sure some will stay and be happy to do so. We will see.”
It looks like it's finally time to wave goodbye to the pink seats at the SOL as Stewart Donald confirmed he's ordered some shiny new red ones: "Not the most important job at Sunderland AFC but one ticked off nonetheless. An order for 31,500 seats to replace those pink seats is being made so please look out for a press release over the coming days where we hope the fans can come down & help us to replace them."
Sunderland have announced the first four of their pre-season fixtures. Jack Ross' side will travel to Darlington July 11th, Hartlepool July 14th, Grimsby July 17th and St Mirren on 21st July.
We'll likely field a number of different players in these matches for the manager to get to know his side and implement his tactics and ideas. The squad are also off to Portugal for a pre-season training camp and it is understood that they are attempting to organise a friendly there. More friendlies are expected to be announced as the season gets closer and the new squad comes together.