Jeremain Lens Returns 'Home' From International Squad
The rehabilitation of Jeremain Lens is over, for now. The Dutch winger, on loan at Fenerbahçe, has left the Netherlands squad having picked up an injury in Wednesday's friendly with Belgium. He will now miss the World Cup qualifying tie with Luxembourg at the weekend.
Good to be back at the Dutch team pic.twitter.com/DkXaMBsk4K— Jeremain Lens (@jeremainlens) November 8, 2016
The 28-year old Sunderland-owned player will sit out the Ezeli Rekabet, the infamous Istanbul derby between Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe, on the 20th November. The injury is expected to keep him sidelined for a couple of weeks.
Lens joined his former boss, Dick Advocaat, at the Turkish club at the end of the summer transfer window. He has publicly stated that he has no desire to return to the Stadium of Light.
One Turkish website has claimed Fenerbahçe have no automatic purchase option in the loan agreement with Sunderland, and that a fee of €1m was agreed between the two clubs for Len's spell in Turkey. It also claims that the Istanbul-based outfit are paying Lens' salary of €2.5 per year.
Clubs also credited with an interest in Jeremain Lens include Atalanta, Roma and Ajax. The player will remain with Fenerbahçe until the end of the season, at which point Sunderland are likely to be looking to sell him on, to the highest bidder no doubt.
'Atmosphere' Plans for Hull City Clash
Sunderland are planning to turn the Stadium of Light into a cauldron of noise for the visit of Hull City a week on Saturday.
The club are actively considering plans to enhance the atmosphere for the home six-pointer against The Tigers, and that may even involve the distribution of cardboard clappers.
The powers-that-be at the Stadium of Light will be looking to build on the first whiff of positivity this season following last weekend's maiden victory at Bournemouth. At the same time, fan group and custodians of Sunderland's crowd surfers, HawayTheFlags, have hinted they are finalising plans for some serious waving for the visit of Hull City:
Meanwhile, Hull boss Mike Phelan has received a blow in his preparations for the trip to the Stadium of Light, with the news that strikers Abel Hernandez and Will Keane are ruled out for the clash.
The Cult of Positive Thinking
Further proof, perhaps, that Sunderland players are increasingly briefed on what to say to the press as both Vito Mannone and Seb Larsson feature in the local press today hailing the power of 'positive thinking' in aiding their returns from injury.
In the Evening Chronicle, following his appearance in the Check-a-Trade trophy during the week, goalkeeper Mannone says on his return to the first team ahead of schedule:
I think the mindset was the main thing; being positive and facing it like any another challenge.
Meanwhile, speaking to the Sunderland Echo, midfielder Sebastian Larsson reveals keeping a positive mentality helped him return to full fitness and make his return in the same fixture against Notts County on Wednesday night:
I said to myself after the operation that I needed to stay as positive as I can.
But of course you have days where you are in the gym, you’re on your own, and you see the boys training and travelling to games, and it can be a bit frustrating.
If you let that take over, though, it will just seem to take longer to get fit.
It's as if someone tells them what to say, it really is.
Gabonese Football Implodes Further
Following yesterday's detailed look at the state of football in Gabon, more news reaches us which may suggest Didier Ndong's exclusion for failing to turn up for training with his international team mates may the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
This article, published yesterday, hints at further indiscretions within the camp, including two members of the international team being hauled up for allegedly entertaining ladies at the team hotel which was explained as a 'hoax'; and star striker, and captain of his country, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the other member of the side initially absent from the team's training base.
Certainly Didier Ndong was made an example of, and perhaps rightly so. But is the Sunderland midfielder carrying the can for others in the Gabon side? Watch this space.
Cantona Mocks Sunderland
Ok, so the Manchester United legend has his sights set on Jose Mourinho rather than David Moyes; but still, Cantona has this to say in his latest EuroSport video:
Manchester United fans I understand your frustration. They have the 'Special One' [Mourinho], the 'Sweden One' [Ibrahimovic], the 'too expensive' [Pogba] and even the hair transplant [Rooney] and they do not yet form a whole. However, deem them some merit. Football is not an exact science. In addition, Pep, Wenger and Klopp are sharing the leadership of the Premier League, but I doubt Jose will go "give up".
Hang in there Jose, it could be worse - you could be training Sunderland.
You can watch it here:
"Hang in there Jose!" Commissioner Cantona is back! And he has a message for his beloved Manchester United... pic.twitter.com/nXg9x03NMw— Eurosport UK (@Eurosport_UK) November 5, 2016
Suppose he has a point.