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Light the beacons! Sunderland has drawn Notts County in the first knockout stage of the Checkatrade Trophy. The game will take place at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday December 4th.

Ahead of this weekend’s clash with Wycombe, the lads have been boosted by the news that Tom Flanagan has been released from Northern Ireland squad for the upcoming League One fixture. Speaking about this, NI gaffer Michael O’Neil had the following to say: "In terms of the game on Sunday we’ll see where we go but what I do have is 28 players. We’ve let Tom Flanagan go back to Sunderland to play on Saturday but there’s a bunch of lads desperate to play.”

Meanwhile, Jack Ross has been discussing the size of the task he has turning Sunderland AFC back into a force in football. He’s clearly relishing the task. Ross said: “We have done nothing so far other than give ourselves a good start to the season. A platform to try to get out of this division at the first time of asking. There’s two parts to that rebuild. How the playing squad has responded. I am really pleased with that. In the grand scheme of things the club has almost unlimited potential. I want to take it to the maximum, but that may take a few years yet and football is fickle and things can change quickly. I am focused on the first thing we can achieve and that is promotion from League One. Then you adjust the ambition from there. I had other opportunities before I came here. I chose it even though some people may have been saying it was not the right one. For me the potential was huge and if I get it right I know where we can take the club. It is a privilege to manage here. The facilities, the stadium, the fan base. As time marches on you tend to forget where you were, even six months ago. The task was probably bigger than I envisaged back then. I knew it was going to be big, but when you come in and understand some of the complexities of what was going on you then realise.”

In other news new SAFC goalkeeper coach, Craig Samson has revealed the influence, Jack Ross had on his arrival at the club. “It was a lot to do with the manager to be honest. We spoke about it last week and he said he’d like me to come down but he knew it was a big decision because I was playing. I just thought it was something I really wanted to do, and it was an opportunity I didn’t want to pass up. I am 34 and not going to play forever. Yes, I was playing in the Premier League in Scotland, so people might think it is a strange decision, but I have got a family and I had to think about the long-term aspects. The size of this football club and where the manager believes he can take it is something I wanted to be a part of.”

Former Sunderland hero, Jermain Defoe has been dedicated his OBE to his best friend, Bradley Lowery. “There's so many people I can thank, like my mum, my sister, people involved in the foundation. The volunteers, people involved in the shoebox appeal. All those that worked for the foundation over the years. I would love to dedicate this amazing day, this OBE to my little friend Bradley, everyone knows the relationship I had with Bradley. I've got this for the Jermain Defoe Foundation but above all of that I think it's the relationship I had with him that was special. You never expect to receive any award, so to receive something like this, of course it still hurts. I've got some great memories of Bradley, but to receive something like this today, it makes me feel good."

Finally, the club have announced that the South Stand will be renamed as a result of a fan vote on a shortlist of names gathered from a fans survey. To vote, click here

Red And White Army chairman, Andrew Hird commented: “When 10,000 supporters complete a survey, you’re naturally going to get a wide range of suggestions an all manner of things, including the naming of stands. However, it was clear that the themes of tradition, history and sense of place were of utmost importance. With this in mind we provided a long-list to Sunderland AFC which has led to a shortlist of four names for supporters to choose from. We’re aware you can’t cover all bases when it comes to such a large number of respondents, but we’re very pleased with the collaborative approach the club has taken. The choices are derived from supporter feedback and are consistent with those themes of tradition and heritage”

Sunderland AFC’s executive director Charlie Methven also said: “Sunderland both as a club and a city has a strong and proud identity and we want our home, the Stadium of Light, to reflect this. Since we came to the club in the summer, putting supporters at the forefront of everything we do was our utmost priority. They are the lifeblood of this football club. Giving our supporters the opportunity to choose the name of the stand is important, this isn’t simply about the club making a decision, it’s about reflecting and actioning the wishes of supporters. Our sincere thanks go to the RAWA for all of the fantastic work they have done and continue to do to make the ideas and suggestions of supporters a reality.”

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