Matchday News

Lynden Gooch reckons he had no intention of leaving Sunderland this summer, despite reports to the contrary. “I knew there would be interest elsewhere but this is the club I’ve been with a really long time and I would do anything to get the club back where it belongs. The manager really made me feel that I would be an integral part of the team from day one. The past two years have been some of the hardest of my life, let alone in my career being involved with two successive relegations. The club obviously means a lot to me. Without the club, I wouldn’t be a professional footballer. They really invested in me and worked to give the best opportunity to have a career in the game. So the club means a lot to me and I hope we can finish the season on a happy note.”

In other news, Gabon media outlets claim that Didier Ndong is on his way back to Wearside to help Sunderland’s promotion push! This massive change of heart is probably no more than an attempt to show he’s available for work when it all goes legal, but the player has been quoted as saying: “I’m ready to see my salary reduced, as long as I’m putting my boots on with Sunderland. I’m ready to fight to get the club back into the second division.”

Meanwhile, Jack Ross has been chatting about Duncan Watmore's recovery. “He’s making really good progress,” said Ross. “He’s joined in with me probably for over a week now, but just bits and pieces depending on what we’re doing. We have a meeting every morning anyway to discuss what we’re doing. Sports scientist] Paul Walsh, who is working with Duncan very closely, on the medical side of it will discuss what we’re doing, how he can get involved and when we take him out. The people he sees externally are also really positive and happy with where his knee is at. I think there’s a duty of care for us because it is his second injury and it is a bad one to get. So there’s no timeframe. I want him back and he wants to be back because he looks at us now and wants to be involved, but I keep stressing to him, there’s no pressure. He’ll get there and I think it’ll be sooner rather than later but I’ve never put a timeframe on it. The next stage will be for him to train fully, probably with the younger players, which I think he is keen on. Psychologically that will be good, slightly less intense and then join us. Even when he’s fit, last time he was probably thrown in quite quickly because of the circumstances. It’s important even when we get to that stage that we have that [cautious] approach because it’ll be better for everyone in the long run. We have a lot of players that like the ball and want to come to the ball, and I think that’s partly why we’re having some issues at the moment. Last Saturday [at Burton Albion] I was really frustrated by that. We’d done a lot of work in the build-up on stretching the game and we couldn’t do it, so you end up inviting pressure close to your own goal. Duncan does it with and without the ball, his first thought is to run towards goal. We don’t really have that. We’ve tried to encourage Josh [Maja] to do it a bit more. To be fair to Aiden [McGeady] he’s got a good understanding of when to stretch it and when to come short, but again he prefers the ball into feet. Jerome [Sinclair] is someone who should because of the attributes he has but again, if you watch him and looked at a heatmap of where he was on the pitch against Burton [it’s too deep]. To be fair I think it’s part of the modern game, players come to the ball all the time. It’s probably Barcelona’s fault! Every time we do our ways of attack, if you have play in tight areas, it’s not easy. The distances that defenders have got to travel is smaller. If you stretch the game then you’ll find yourself with more opportunities. It’s trying to get these players to do something that’s maybe not quite natural, whereas with Duncan it is. If we could get him back and then clone him, that’d be great! The game has shifted a lot and become very possession dominated, about being comfortable on the ball. You do need that but there is an element of, any pass more than 20 yards is suddenly just a punt up the pitch. It’s not - even at the very top level, they’re stretching the game, making forward runs. We’re encouraging that. So Duncan will help us. I think it’s a big part of why we’ve been penned in at times.”

All 2,628 tickets for Bradford City away, on Saturday 6 October, are now sold out. You can book transport via ALS here…