Five Sleeps

There’s two bits of good news today, our opponents on Saturday, Charlton, have an injury crisis and the arrival of Luke O'Nien will be announced today! That should complete our midfield, now we just need two strikers. Wyke and Shape, please.

Meanwhile, Jerome Sinclair, who probably thinks/hopes we only need one striker, has been chatting about his Sunderland loan deal. “When I got the opportunity to play for a club like this, you can see it is a top, top club - Sunderland is a Premier League club,” said Sinclair. “For me to come here and play and get a lot of game time is something that I really need and if I can help get this team back to where it is supposed to be, then it will be a big bonus. A week and a half ago my agent and Watford came to me and said there was an opportunity to come to Sunderland, I jumped at the chance. I know I need to play games this season and it was a no-brainer to sign. You can see there is a clear way of thinking, a clear style of play that the manager wants to implement. It will suit me, the way I play. I am really excited to get going here. It is a young squad, I was impressed with the lads against Middlesbrough and you can see them working hard in training. I haven’t played in League One before but from what I have seen of it - and the players we have at the club - we will be a force this season. Not to speak too soon, we need to hit the ground running over the next few weeks and get some results, but I am confident we will do well.”

He also got a north east weather warning at Middlesbrough on Friday night. “That was definitely the first time I’ve played in a game that has been called of at half-time due to the weather, a nice little welcome to the North East! I was definitely buzzing to be out there with the lads and get the first 45 minutes out the way. I would have liked more minutes in the tank but obviously it wasn’t to be! I’ll get into training next week and get ready for the start of the league campaign. I have only had one training session so didn’t really get chance to see too much but I was really impressed with the lads against Middlesbrough. Against a good Championship team in Boro - they will be a top Championship team next season - we really held our own.”

In other news, Jack Ross would have liked a smoother pre-season in terms of players coming in sooner, but he thinks we’ll just about be ready to face Charlton on Saturday. “I think this will probably be the most challenging pre-season period of my managerial career, for however long I’m in this kind of job, for a number of reasons. But what I would say is that the group I’ve had have been fantastic, so responsive. We’ve been low on numbers, a young number, but they’ve responded well to everything that we’ve asked them to do. I think their progress has been reflected in the results and the performances, because Middlesbrough was a big test for us. You look at our side and how young it was, the lack of depth, to come and produce that brave performance is a reflection of how they feel about themselves, I think they feel good. So there’s two answers to that really, ideally I’d like to be further ahead in terms of preparation for the whole squad but on the flip side, I’ve been delighted with the response I’ve had. There’s been a lot more positives than negatives in the last few games, I’ve spoken about that steady improvement. Friday was the biggest test for us, we tried to have a thought process behind our pre-season programme whereby there was a build-up in the calibre of opponent. That was reflected in Middlesbrough’s line-up and the players responded to that brilliantly. There’s certainly a lot to be positive about, I think the players feel good and that matters in football. They’ve got that at the moment and it is up to me to harness that and keep growing it.”

Elsewhere, Josh Maja has been talking up his mate Bali Mumba, who to be fair looks amazing for his age. Maja: “I think Bali has done very well. He’s only a young kid but he’s made his mark and showed what he can do in training. The gaffer has seen what he can do and has put him in (for the games) and obviously he’s handled himself well. I think he’ll definitely get his chance this season. We’re all really looking forward to the start of the season now. There’s a positive vibe within the group and the gaffer is getting his point across. We’re playing the way he wants us to play and I think that is bringing out the best in the team. I think this season is going to be a very good one for us.”