SAFC’s Non-Executive Director David Jones has been chatting about recruitment, Roy Keane and his general role at SAFC. “My role as a non-executive is to offer advice and support where it's needed but Stewart has asked particularly that I keep a close eye on the football side of the club, allowing others to focus on the business,” said Jones. “I did the same thing for three years at Oxford United, working alongside the manager Michael Appleton and advising the board on football matters as we moved up from the lower reaches of League Two to the top half of League One. I believe there is huge value in building a modern recruitment system, as we did at Oxford, employing specialist analysts to use the infinite data that's now readily available, to work alongside the scouting team that Tony Coton is building. It's such a competitive market and everyone is trying to outsmart each other to identify the best young talent with sell on value; investing in recruitment is the most sensible to develop a football club that doesn't want to rely on single-owner investment as our club did for so long to its cost. You have to get the balance right of course, selling too many players will limit your on-field progress and ambitions.”

“We've had more than our fair share of ups and downs in the four decades that I've been following the lads but I look back with great fondness on the swashbuckling years of Peter Reid and later the resurrection under Roy Keane who gave us Sunderland fans our pride back,” he added. “Roy's now a colleague of mine and I can tell you he still keeps a very close eye on everything that happens at the Stadium of Light! All the guys are fully supportive and you can't help but absorb some of that incredible football knowledge and experience when you're surrounded by characters like Keane, Souness, Neville and Carragher every week. I've enjoyed working with Phil Parkinson and his staff who are doing a great job, and built the foundations of this run before Christmas when some very difficult decisions were made. They are a really good bunch, a lovely blend of personalities, and deserve your support. I really believe this can the beginning of an exciting time. There is so much potential here, and with patience, your continuing support and some sound decision making at the top of the club, I'm confident it will be realised.”

In other news, Phil Parkinson has explained why Declan John is yet to feature for Sunderland. “I feel for Declan, and I feel it's worth giving him a special mention. The scenario on the bench is that I know with an injury, I could put Conor right wing-back and Luke [O’Nien] left wing-back, or if we're chasing a game we can put Goochy there. So the difficulty is that defensive cover. Obviously if Luke got injured then Conor can play right wing-back, so we choose to have one centre back and Conor at the moment. Declan has been training well, and more importantly he has been great in and around the boys,” added the Sunderland boss. Obviously, you come to a new club and you want your opportunity, but if it comes he'll be ready.”