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The Roker Roundup: Thursday 11th February 2016

Which former Arsenal player is training with the club? Plus, Vito's thoughts ahead of the weekend, two new signings for Sunderland ladies, a potential permanent departure from the club, how Lamine Kone almost signed for West Ham and a former player has announced he's stepping into a boxing ring - it's Thursday's edition of the Roker Roundup!

Vito Mannone hopes that Sunderland's draw last weekend against Liverpool can be a turning point in our quest for Premier League survival, and he told the Evening Chronicle that his side will be targeting three points when Manchester United arrive at the Stadium of Light this weekend:

Some things change the mentality of the team, and can change the season. I hope that is a turning point.

We like to fight in every game, and get as many points as possible because we really want survival.

Elsewhere, Sunderland ladies have signed ex-Manchester City midfielder Krystle Johnston and defender Rachel Pitman, both on free transfers.

Johnston, who is thirty-one years old, spent almost a decade at Manchester City and joins Carlton Fairweather's squad ahead of the upcoming FA Women's Super League 1 season, bringing a wealth of experience along with her. Pitman - a former England youth international - has spent time in America playing for DePaul University in Chicago and joins the club until 2017.

Fairweather told sunderland.fawsl.com:

It is great to bring on board another two fantastic players as we look to build on the success of last season.

Krystle and Rachel have a wealth of experience which will stand us in good stead for the forthcoming campaign.

The Yorkshire Evening Post claim that Leeds United are looking at the possibility of making Liam Bridcutt's move to the club permanent, with the Scotland international currently in the midst of a rather successful loan spell at Elland Road.

Bridcutt found himself completely out of Sam Allardyce's first team plans, only appearing three times on the substitutes bench before being allowed to leave on loan to Leeds in November. He's made such a good impression on Steve Evans that they opted to extend his loan in January, and now it's expected that Leeds will try and come to terms with Sunderland on a permanent move for the player before the season is over.

Lamine Kone told the Sunderland Echo that West Ham United were interested in his services when Sam Allardyce was manager, and strangely said that the prospect of a relegation battle was what sold a move to Sunderland to him.

West Ham were interested when Sam Allardyce was in charge the summer before his last season, but they couldn’t agree a deal with Lorient, so it didn’t come to anything.

So I knew Sam Allardyce from that, and I obviously know him as a good manager from what he’s done previously in the Premier League.

Sunderland made an attractive offer for me. There were other clubs interested but none of their interest came to anything concrete.

I found this an interesting project because of the idea of helping them in the relegation battle.

I spoke to Sam Allardyce, who said he needed me in a relegation battle, so that appealed to me.

In other news, Julio Arca has revealed that he'll be stepping into a boxing ring at the Rainton Meadows Arena as part of a charity boxing event in May.

Arca - who currently plays for South Shields in the Northern League Division Two - is putting on a pair of gloves in order to raise money for Cancer Research, and has invited people to attend the show and watch him, erm, get his face punched in.

Last but not least, it appears that Arsenal cult hero Emmanuel Eboue is training with the first team at the Academy of Light, having left Turkish side Galatasaray at the end of his contract.

Eboue's last competitive game of football was in May and ESPN claim that the player, despite only training with Sunderland in order to regain fitness, is able to sign on a free transfer should the club elect to do so.

Sam Allardyce was keen to bring a right back in during the January transfer window and failed to do so, with Mathieu Debuchy opting to instead sign for Ligue 1 side Bordeaux. Despite the poor form of Billy Jones it's expected that Adam Matthews will leave the club on loan when the loan window re-opens and it may well be that, should Eboue prove to be worthy of a contract, he may well take up one of the two free slots that Sunderland have in their 25-man squad.