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The Roker Roundup - Friday 19th February 2016

Rihanna, Danny Graham, Gus Poyet, Wahbi Khazri and Andy Carroll - it's today's Roker Roundup!

Poyet Wants Premier League Return

Former Sunderland manager Gustavo Poyet has told Skysports that he ultimately wants a return to the Premier League, despite currently taking up the position as head coach of Greek side AEK Athens.

Poyet lost his job as Sunderland head coach last March, two days after his side conceded four first half goals to lowly Aston Villa. Since then, Poyet has flirted with bits of media work here and there, something he did until he took charge of Greek Super League side AEK Athens in October. His contract with the club runs until the summer, and Poyet is keen to return to Premier League management sooner rather than later.

He said:

I’ve committed myself to a club (AEK Athens) that gives me the chance to win things, but I’ve committed myself in the short term. The future is open, nobody knows where I will be next year, I do certain things thinking ‘maybe I could be here’, but at the same time my aim is to get back to the Premier League - no doubt.

I’m a realistic person. I know the risk of football managers and how it works.

The only thing I was disappointed with myself, in the second year (at Sunderland), not to make the team play in the way I wanted.

I needed to get out of England. I was focused too much on what happened in England over many, many years.

I wanted to open myself up and see if things that we are convinced of in England work, and check on different football and a different mentality, more European. So far I have to say that it does work.

You have to wonder whether or not Poyet would have been in the running for the Swansea job had he been available, considering the style of football he likes to play probably matches them more than any other side in the division.

Former Sunderland Youngster Keen For Pools Impact

Former Sunderland youth player Nathan Thomas is making waves at his new club Hartlepool, and is aiming to continue his run of form ahead of their game with Luton tomorrow.

Thomas was brought to Wearside after leaving Newcastle in 2011, and having served his apprenticeship at Sunderland he left in the summer of 2013, going on to play Darlington, Plymouth, Motherwell and Mansfield, before signing for Hartlepool in January on a free transfer.

Thomas has registered three assists since signing just over a month ago - it's good to see someone come through the system at Sunderland doing well, and I hope it continues. You can read Nathan's full interview with the Sunderland Echo here.

Khazri Enjoying Life On Wearside

New signing Wahbi Khazri has told that he's enjoying his start to life as a Sunderland player, insisting his side have enough to stave off relegation again this season.

It’s going really well and everyone has welcomed me, so it’s been easy to settle in. It’s good to score for the first time and good for my confidence, and for me to score and for us to beat Manchester United makes it even better.

When I was at Bordeaux I had a lot of success with my set pieces, so I’m happy that the winning goal came from one of my corners and hopefully that will continue.

We played big games (against Manchester City and Liverpool, also) and we’ve showed that we’re worth more than the bottom three. It will be good to recuperate properly and work on a few things because the matches come around so quickly.

We’ve just got to take it match by match and do what we need to stay in the Premier League. It’s very tight down the bottom and all we need is a good run of wins.

It's impressive just how well Khazri has adapted to life here. Often with foreign players you expect a period of time that is needed for the player to bed in but he's played in every game since arriving and does not look out of place in terms of physicality or pace. Fingers crossed he continues to deliver the quality like he has in recent games.

Carroll Out Of Sunderland Game

Some positive news from a Sunderland perspective - Andy Carroll won't be playing when we take on West Ham next week as, unsurprisingly, he's injured.

Carroll has been a thorn in the side of Sunderland defences for years now, so it's a huge sigh of relief that he won't be available for selection next weekend when Sam Allardyce's men head for the capital.

Carroll's manager Slaven Bilic said:

It's not a big injury, maybe a couple of weeks.

It happens to him a lot, he can’t get a proper routine of games. We are gutted, and he is gutted, at the situation.

He felt it warming up at Norwich but came on and made a huge impact. Afterwards it turned out to be a minor injury - but still an injury.

It's an opportune time to be playing West Ham such is the volume of injuries that they have - Enner Valencia and Diafra Sakho are also doubts for next week's game, meaning new boy Emmanuel Emenike is the only striking option at Bilic's disposal.

Graham Wants Permanent Move To Blackburn

Danny Graham has confirmed that he won't be coming back to Sunderland upon the expiration of his loan deal at Blackburn, instead focusing on achieving a permanent switch to the Championship club.

Graham scored his first goal for the club against Fulham and seems to be enjoying himself.

He told the Lancashire Telegraph:

Since the moment I’ve walked through the door the staff and the players have been superb with me.

It does feel like I’ve been here longer than three weeks or so. That’s a good thing and hopefully we’ll do well together.
 I feel as though I’m playing well. Everyone knows it was a tough time for me at Sunderland but I’ll never hide from that.

I think it’ll make me a stronger person going forward. It’s nice to be back up front, it’s nice to be getting a run of games and obviously it was nice to get the goal as well and hopefully I can kick on from there.

I’ve been in situations like this before when I haven’t scored for a while but maybe not as bad as this one.

But I’m tougher mentally now than what I was a few years ago. I don’t let anything faze me. I just go out there and I’m confident if I get a chance I will score.

100 per cent [I would be interested in staying]. My Sunderland contract is up in the summer and that won’t be getting renewed.

Hopefully it all goes well and we can sort something out in the summer.

Rihanna Gig Cancelled

Despite the news that Beyonce has sold out her gig at the Stadium of Light it would appear that Rihanna didn't, and the event has been cancelled, presumably to avoid the embarrassment of a half-filled stadium.

Although the official line cites 'logistical issues', I think it's fair to say that the tickets weren't selling particularly well (when I checked the other week there were loads still left for sale) and the decision has been taken to cancel the date. Oh well.

The official statement on the club website reads:

Due to logistical reasons beyond the tours control a number of shows on Rihanna’s forthcoming Anti World Tour have been cancelled. The concert scheduled for Sunderland’s Stadium of Light is one of those affected and the show will no longer go ahead.

Sunderland AFC’s commercial director Gary Hutchinson said: "Unfortunately this is something that can happen with major tours and naturally we are sorry for those concert-goers who were looking forward to the show.

"We still have an exciting summer of events planned at the Stadium of Light however, including the sell-out Beyoncé concert, which everyone is looking forward to."

Customers wishing to obtain a refund for tickets purchased should do so from the point of sale. Refunds on tickets purchased in-person from the Stadium of Light box office will be available from Tuesday. Patrons must produce the voucher they were issued at the time of purchase in order to secure their refund.

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