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The Roker Roundup: Wednesday 17th February 2016

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

Steven Fletcher seems to be settling into life at Marseille well, and was tasked with completing his initiation last night at a team dinner.

Fletcher scored on his full debut for the club last Thursday night and, as is common place in all football dressing rooms, he was ordered to sing a song in front of his team mates before being fully accepted as a member of the Marseille squad.

Got a mate that doesn't have a season card? Well, you can get them a ticket for the Palace match a week on Tuesday for just a tenner, according to

The statement on the club website reads:

Sunderland AFC season card holders can take advantage of a special offer when the Black Cats return to home Barclays Premier League action in just under two weeks.

Sam Allardyce’s men will take on Crystal Palace on Tuesday 1 March, 7.45pm kick-off, their first game at the Stadium of Light since battling to a 2-1 victory over Manchester United.

Current season card holders can invite friends and family along to sample the Stadium of Light atmosphere for just £10 each* in an exclusive offer. Standard tickets for the game are priced from £25 for adults, £19 for over 65s and £10 for supporters aged under 16, so the offer represents a significant saving for season card holders.

The stadium’s Fan Zone, located on the south east corner of the stadium, will be open from 5.45pm, featuring live music, entertainment and a range of food and beverage options for supporters wishing to soak up the pre-match atmosphere.

*Maximum of two tickets per season card.

It's an opportune time for us to be playing Palace, who are struggling massively and haven't won a Premier League game since mid-December, so get yourself along to the game if you can. In terms of our end goals of staying up, it's a game that can be considered a must-win.

Youngster George Honeyman told the South Shields Gazette that Sam Allardyce is giving chances to young players, especially now that coaches that have cut their teeth in our youth system are now a part of Sam's back room staff.

Honeyman explained:

I've been at Sunderland since I was 11 and we have had a lot of different managers and things change with each one.

Under the gaffer at the moment there is a better pathway than there has been to get into the first team squad.

People like Robbie Stockdale [first team coach] and Paul Bracewell [assistant manager], who we have all worked with at Under-21 level, are now involved with the first team. It is down to yourself at the end of the day, if you are good enough, you will get a chance.

For me, Honeyman is a better all round player than Duncan Watmore is and there's no reason why he couldn't succeed if given the opportunity to play with the first team, so fingers crossed he gets his chance sooner rather than later.

Danny Graham scored his first goal for Blackburn Rovers last night since joining on loan and his new manager Paul Lambert has been impressed by his contribution thus far at Ewood Park.

Graham scored only once whilst at Sunderland and it was clear that he wasn't going to be good enough for this level pretty much from the off. It was a mutually beneficial move when he joined Blackburn, and his current gaffer is delighted that the player has gotten off the mark for his new club, scoring a header right at the death last night against Fulham.

Lambert said:

Danny Graham has scored at every level and it's funny because even when I was with Norwich, he was scoring goals with Swansea in the Championship.

I always liked the way he played the game and there's always a hunger with him.

You see his work­rate, everything he gave us.

If there's one guy I'm absolutely delighted for to score a goal it's him because he's a top guy, top pro and honestly if we can keep him fit, he will be a very good signing for us.

I think Paul might be pissed. Graham never played in the Championship for Swansea as far as I can recall.

Finally, Sam Allardyce has said he believes that his squad's trip to Dubai this week will benefit us as we head towards the end of the season.

Sam said of the trip:

Dubai is a foregone conclusion for me. When they come back they’ll be fitter, physically and mentally.

They’ll be better prepared to finish the season.

I have the data that goes with it, I don’t just rely on what I think. I rely on the data that ProZone churns out. After 14 or 15 years of doing it, all that data went to the Premier League and Football League about what it would do for everybody if you gave them a winter break, how it would reduce the injury list and refresh the players physically and mentally.

For me it [Dubai] has always been a very important time. It puts that very difficult Christmas and New Year period [behind you], where it’s raining, it’s windy, it’s cold, it’s black, it’s wet, it’s dark when you come in, it’s dark when you go home, and then you get to Dubai and it’s 75 degrees [Fahrenheit].

You can train in your T-shirt and your boots and it’s warm and you need factor 25 rather than 16 jumpers, a hat and a scarf.

It makes you feel good and if they feel good you’re going to get more out of the players when they come back — and extra points, hopefully.

Sounds lovely. Can I come?

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