Here’s today’s news from the new ALS Shop and Roker Park Café

Jack Baldwin has been chatting about his first six months at Sunderland and what he’s learned in that time about the club and the fans. “Where do you start? The training ground, the amount of staff, the stadium, the fans, you know you’re stepping up. I’ve tried to grab it with both hands and make the most of it while I can. Being a footballer, it’s a short career. I might never have had the chance to go to the Championship but I think I’ve got a great chance to do that here. I hope it all continues for many more years. Before (Sunderland) I always felt like I needed to try and make something happen on the ball. Stepping out from the back, trying to find a forward man, trying to break lines, that kind of thing. Ultimately that can lead you to lose the ball but in this time I probably don’t feel like I need to force the pass as much. You can trust whoever you give it to to make something happen. At times, you’ve just got to get it up the pitch. It’s always the risk-reward factor when you play out the back. I think I started off pretty well, putting in some decent defensive performances. I think I’ve gone away from that recently, I’ve not come out thinking I’ve played the best I’ve played this season. But as development goes, I’m training with better players every day. When Geads gets you one-on-one in training, you can only learn from that. Playing with people like that every day, as a centre-back it is good to test yourself in that environment because come Saturday, I don’t think you’re ever going to face someone like him in this league. So you do feel like you’re developing on a daily basis. The gaffer (Jack Ross) is always speaking to you, communicating, about previous games and the ones coming up, how we feel they’ve gone. You do a lot of work with Potts (coach John Potter) and Fowls (assistant manager James Fowler) as well on the clips from games, where they feel you could have done better and what you did well. The staff are very open and honest. There’s respect, you can have a joke but you know when they want to get a message across. The balance is good in that sense. I obviously want to play at the highest level if I can, so we do make that step up back to the Championship then it’ll be a great test for me, another level in quality and the pace of the game. It’s one I think I’d thrive on and hopefully at Sunderland.”

Baldwin also spoke about the defence as unit and his fellow centre backs: “It’s nice to develop those partnerships, Tom and I have a great understanding,” said Baldwin. “The flip side is that when Glenn (Loovens) comes in, he brings that experience. He is great to learn from every day on the training pitch so for me, either way it’s good. The competition drives everybody on. You have Alim (Ozturk) as well, who is an excellent professional and is fighting every day (for a place). Rhythm is a big thing for me. I’ve had injury problems before and when I’ve come back you do feel a bit off the pace of things. To feature every week is good for me personally to stay up to the pace. It isn’t always pretty in this league. I think there were games we drew earlier in the season we felt we should have won. I think we have a better understanding of the league now and it’s just about getting the wins. Going into every game, I think other teams are looking at us, maybe not quite a cup final but it’s such a big game. It’s a big day for opposition games so there whole approach to the game might not be the same.”

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