Movin On Up

Jon McLaughlin was voted Man of the Match on Saturday v Southend and has been chatting about how much he’s loving life on Wearside. He said: “It’s starting to feel like it could be the pinnacle of my career, if you like. For a club of this size and stature, to feel at home and to be accepted by the fans and everyone at the club, and have that feeling is fantastic so early on. We have not achieved anything yet but the potential is there, anyone can see if we can keep this going, not just this season but for the next four or five seasons, you could be part of something massive, getting this club back to its rightful place. In your career you always want keep going in the right direction, to move forward. Hopefully it will aid the bigger cause. That’s the feeling. The sky is the limit here. It’s unfortunate that the club has had to go through this for us to get a chance at a club like this,” added McLaughlin. “This might have been out of reach for a lot of us, we have had to take advantage of the situation but now we are in it. It is huge, you have to take that opportunity you have been given and make the most of it. If you can get in on the ground floor of a club like this and ride your way back up then that could be a dream come true. Hopefully it is just the start of something bigger. You have to get over that initial period of change which we had. The staff, players, everyone, had to, and we got a decent start. To get it to click and gel like we have managed to is fantastic, now we are in a great position, we are in good place to kick on hopefully we can ride it to promotion and on to the next few seasons. You look at the table and you want to catch the teams above you but, on our statistics, points wise, our average for all of that is on form. We have to believe that if we keep doing what we can then others will falter. At the moment there are four or five sides managing to keep that momentum up. In the past the Wigans, Sheffield Uniteds, Blackburns have carried it on for a full season, whoever have managed to keep it up. We know we have the squad to cope over the winter months, we know we can keep doing it consistently.”

McLaughlin is also enjoying being back in the Scotland set up but knows if he’s named in the squad to face Albania and Israel next month we could either cancel Wycombe at home, or he’ll miss out. He said: “It’s difficult to balance because you know you don’t get the international breaks off in this division (if teams don’t have three call-ups). This is who pays the wages, where you know you have to do it on a daily basis. Of course, you want to go away and be involved for your country, but if you are not playing, being a supporting role, then there is a big decision to be made if you are missing key games at club level. We will see what happens but the main focus is to keep this going.”

With Aiden McGeady and Josh Maja coming off the bench against Southend, Jack Ross felt that it showed our strength in depth. “Aiden is an unbelievably talented footballer. I’ve seen it at first-hand because I’ve played against him directly, so I know how good he is. I see it every day in training,” said Ross. “What he deserves is an enormous amount of credit for his professionalism and his attitude because he was disappointed not to start against Doncaster but he came on and helped us win the game in the last period. On Saturday I thought he was really, really good when he came on. We hoped he would do that when the game opened up. It suits him, because one-v-one he’s as good as anyone in the country, never mind the league. I’m pleased he got his reward with the goal because that’s been the most frustrating thing for him. I’m delighted with the contribution he’s making for me and, like a lot of players, he’ll want to make sure he’s in the starting team. Aiden’s an intelligent man and I think sometimes we forget the level he’s played at. He’s played in the latter stages of the Champions League and he’s dealt with a lot of pressure and expectation from an early age. He cares deeply about his football and he’s been very good for me since I came to the club, even when he was injured. But there’s always that balance. As a senior player you help the younger players but you also want to play, he’s still got that drive to play every week. I’ve not found him that way (stroppy reputation). He cares about his football, cares about his performance level every day in training. Will he have a moan and a grump at times? Yeah, but so do all the players in my group – George Honeyman, Lee Cattermole, Glenn Loovens, Lynden Gooch, loads of others – but I was as bad as anybody when I was a player. He cares a lot about his football and he’s got standards but how he’s interacted with me and my staff since I’ve been at the club has been brilliant. He made an outstanding contribution on Saturday. I want him to go past his man every time. His feet are remarkably quick and when he faces people up one-v-one the trust that he’ll go past him is incredible. His quality once he gets into those areas, I’m fortunate to have him in my squad and delighted with the contribution he’s made. What this recent run has shown is the importance of the squad because of the different players that have played and in a lot of the recent games the players who have come off the bench have made big contributions towards us winning the game and Saturday was an example of that.”

Southend boss Chris Powell was disappointed afterwards but knew what he was up against. Powell said: “We were certainly in the game in the beginning, disrupted by a bad injury but we got ourselves going again. I felt we took the game to Sunderland. We gave away a poor goal. I think the game-changing moment is the penalty incident with Dru Yearwood. That's a big, big moment in the game. The second goal's a hell of a strike. We created more chances and had more efforts on target. Honeyman, Maguire, McGeady get goals when they have the opportunities. McLaughlin made a couple of good saves but that's things we have to learn. If you've got the quality of McGeady coming on, but they're in League One, you have to believe me we knew exactly what we would come up against. We know the extent of this club and Jack is quietly trying to rebuild confidence in this football club and this area as well.”