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The Roker Roundup: Friday 12th February 2016

Here's what shaping your SAFC world, tonight - it's the Roker Roundup!

Today we start with the under twenty-one's side, and unfortunately for them they've dropped to second place after new leaders Manchester United defeated local rivals Manchester City 1-0 last night.

Andy Welsh's side have enjoyed a fantastic season but with so many of Sunderland's best younger players now out on loan and - in the case of Jordan Pickford and Duncan Watmore - involved in the first team squad, they've been out of sorts as of late, winning last in mid-december away at Norwich City.

The U21s take on Middlesbrough at the Stadium of Light on Monday evening, and we'll be covering the game live via Twitter - keep an eye out for our preview on the site on Monday afternoon.

Emmanuel Eboue has been training with Sunderland since the start of the week and, with the player available on a free transfer, Sam Allardyce is going to look closely at the player whilst assessing his fitness before making a decision as to whether or not he feels it is worth signing the former Arsenal right back.

There’s no hiding the fact that we were looking for that position, and that should spur the other lads in that position on say ‘you’re not going to replace me’.

Billy has got a lot of experience and we’ve got DeAndre, who has got very little experience at this level.

He [Yedlin] has got a lot of qualities but without that experience, it’s a massive ask to perform at the consistent level that you need to at this stage of the season, under the pressure that we’re all under.

Emmanuel Eboue has got a fantastic pedigree at Arsenal and if he has got any capability to produce what he did at Arsenal, we’ll assess that over the next few weeks.

Obviously he hasn’t played football for a long time, so the main question is can we get him fit?

If we can get him fit, then he could produce the kind of performances that may benefit us. If so, he will put Billy Jones and DeAndre under pressure and, if not, he won’t be taken on.

Over in France, Steven Fletcher scored one and assisted another for Marseille last night in their 2-0 Coupe De France win over amateur side Trelissac.

French Newspaper L'Equipe were rather kind to the Scotland international, praising his 'flair'.

bv

Very kind of them.

Below are the highlights from the game, along with an interview at the end talking about his performance.

Elsewhere, Big Sam has offered his thoughts on tomorrow's game with Manchester United, stating that Sunderland won't lose if we play as well as we did against Manchester City.

Allardyce told the South Shields Gazette:

We’ve got a squad that is ready to deliver the kind of performance that I think the fans enjoyed against Manchester City, even though we didn’t get anything out of it. I hope we can deliver that performance, but with a result to make them very happy indeed.

I’d sooner we play like we did against Liverpool and get a result, than against City and lose, but I’m convinced we won’t lose tomorrow if we play like we did against City.

Providing chances for Jermain Defoe is critical for us, but our first major problem is that we haven’t kept a clean sheet in nine matches.

We need to start putting a zero against us in games and if we start doing that we’ll win more matches. If we win more matches, we’ll get out of trouble.

I think we can avoid the drop, but we are going to have to fight to the end now, based on the amount of points we need to catch up, and the games we have left.

It's hard to argue, really - it's going to take a momentous effort if we are to gain ground on the teams above us.

Last season we stayed up because we drew most of the games we played. This year, we're far less defensive and the sooner we get our next win and clean sheet, the better.

Lastly, Jermain Defoe spoke to SAFC.com and noted that he feels Sunderland's confidence and fitness have improved recently, hence the way we clawed our way back in to the Liverpool game last weekend.

Defoe explained:

We had great energy and we look fitter as a team now; the games are running out and we need the results now so there is a lot of pressure, but you just have to stay relaxed and look forward to the games.

Manchester United have had an up and down season and people will say it is a good time to play them, but each game is different and we just have to focus on ourselves and apply ourselves in the right way.