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Looking At Which Sunderland Players' Stock Went Up & Down In Korea

See if Ryan Noble and Jordan Pickford saw their stock go up or down during the trip to South Korea.
See if Ryan Noble and Jordan Pickford saw their stock go up or down during the trip to South Korea.

The preseason sojourn to Korea has been met with mixed opinions. Some saw it as a great opportunity to spread the 'brand' of the club, loathe as I am to use that term, while others saw it as a bit of a waste of time considering so many regular first team players missed out.

Obviously more than anything it was an exercise in fitness, but without so many first-teamers available to Martin O'Neill, there was an opportunity for more fringe players to stand up and be noticed by the clubs management, making themselves useful to have around the place.

With that in mind, we've taken a look at the winners and losers from the 2012 Peace Cup, although it might be a little harsh to suggest that any of them are losers as such, so we've decided to simply look at whether or not their stock with the club has gone up or done down following the trip...

Stock Up

Connor Wickham

For many Sunderland fans, the thought of Connor Wickham leading the line on a regular or semi-regular basis brings them out in a cold sweat. I myself have tried to remain positive and see Wickham as very much a diamond in the rough, he's still only 19-years old after all.

Wickham's still perhaps a lump of coal, but he's a bit shiner after performances in Korea during the Peace Cup - notably the first game against Seongnam. The game wasn't particularly great, and the result even less so, but Wickham was one of the few who excelled.

His touch and control was excellent in that game, and he lead the line like an experienced pro. Against Groningen he perhaps didn't have the best of games, but he did have some moments of quality, and bagged a goal which will do him the world of confidence.

Ryan Noble

He only played fifteen minutes or so of the entire tournament, but they were scintillating to say the least. In his cameo appearance against Groningen not only did he bag a goal of world class proportions but his all round play was excellent.

I don't mind admitting I've been one of Noble's harshest critics in the past, but in that second game of the trip to Korea I saw everything I wanted to see out of him before. His all round play was superb, teeing up teammates as well as using the ball very well.

Noble has certainly given people like myself, who would have shrugged my shoulders and labelled him another Stephen Brodie had he been moved on in the summer, a lot of thinking to do.

Jordan Pickford

Between himself and Ben Wilson there's a battle to become the third choice keeper at the club. He might only look about twelve, but he played pretty well in his half an hour against Groningen, including a great save in the second half to prevent the scoreline becoming 3-1 to the Dutch side.

It's not the most exciting of competitions this summer, but Pickford stole a march on his fellow stopper, who at times looked a little lost, and should have done better with both Groningen goals.

Either however will have to do something incredibly special to dislodge Simon Mignolet or Kieren Westwood any time soon.

David Meyler

Another candidate to be moved on, but Meyler managed to provide two things of the course of the Peace Cup last week in Korea.

First of all, his fitness as he played the full 90 minutes in both games. Part two leads into part one really, in that O'Neill has now had quite a good look at the Irishman, and must have saw something in him to give him the nod two games running, when options like Billy Knott and Craig Gardner were also on the table.

He wasn't exactly amazing in both games, just his usual sort of self - decent in the tackle, kept things relatively simple throughout. Meyler might have a future on Wearside yet.

Stock Down

Billy Knott

Not injured and held out of both games. The rest of the clubs youngsters all managed to get some playing time under their belt, and Martin O'Neill even pledged to take a look at the leading lights of the Academy during this break - evidently, he wasn't over impressed with what he saw.

There's still obviously a lot of time for Knott to turn things around, but with more senior professionals returning to training this week, there's even less opportunity going to be afforded to him to stake a claim to be in and around the first team next season.

We're not writing him off by any stretch, and there could still be a turn around, but it looks more and more like he'll be away on loan again after not seeing action in what was an excellent chance for him.

David Vaughan

Vaughan also didn't play over in Korea, and may well feel like his time was wasted after picking up an injury and not seeing a single minute.

It doesn't bode well for Vaughan. There's rumours that the club are interested in Blackburn Rovers midfielder Steven N'Zonzi, and with O'Neill seeming to favour a 4-3-3 formation, Meyler seems to have moved ahead of him in the pecking order, not to mention Seb Larsson will be returning soon.

Vaughan will have to work hard and impress in the remaining games or he could become expendable.

Titus Bramble

Bramble has had his problems off the pitch, and he's never been exactly amazing on it, but he promised to be more focused and was determined to stake a claim for a first team spot.

On this tour however, it seems we saw only the same old Bramble. Slow, clumsy and generally looking well behind the likes of Carlos Cuellar and Wes Brown. Even John Egan and Louis Laing looked promising in their short appearances, making it looks like Bramble could be the odd man out in the near future.

He'll have to work hard and do something really special to earn a place in the side with John O'Shea and Matt Kilgallon also returning to the first team scene this week, although history suggests that's not going to happen.

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