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Sunderland manager talks of how fan-club relations MUST improve, Bristol City & more

Simon Grayson has spoken to the press this afternoon and had his eyes solely focused on a win this weekend against Bristol City. He discusses the injury situation, squad morale, fan engagement and the opposition this weekend in an action packed press conference.

What did Simon Grayson have to say today when he met the press ahead of the Bristol City game?
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On the Bristol City game...

I think they have had a real good start to the season. I think they have got an energetic young group. They have got players that can hurt you. But they are like every team in the Championship - they are vulnerable as well because of the nature and competitiveness of this division. They had a poor result last week against Leeds but then responded well against a weakened Crystal Palace team. Lee is doing a good job there with the group of players he has got at his disposal.

The Tuesday night game is really no reflection on what we are thinking might be up against us on Saturday. What we will do is our research on what we have done previously and who is injured and who is not injured.

On injuries...

I think most of the lads are available and have trained all week. Marc Wilson has been back all week. Callum McManaman picked up a little niggle on Monday but should be okay for the weekend. Tyias Browning will be the only one missing with his hamstring injury. It is a nice position to be in for a change.

Grayson: He’s feeling positive
Image: Sunderland AFC

On that elusive win...

That is what we keep talking about. We are still positive in everything we do in the lead up to the game. It is what we go out and do on the grass that matters. The preparation has been good this week. Good vibe around the dressing room which it has been since pre season. Ultimately we have got to replicate what we have been doing in training to a match day situation. Somewhere down the line that hoodoo will be broken and hopefully it's this weekend, and we can build on Saturdays result with another result on Tuesday.

It is an important time because we have got three games in a week. I have always said that three games in a week can really change your season around with three positive results. We have had three decent results and performances in the last three games, hopefully in the next three we see better signs and more encouraging signs and hopefully a better points return as well. I think we are in good shape and we are looking forward to the game and let's go and put some positivity around the place again.

On Fan engagement...

It is something that me and Martin agreed from day one that we wanted to get supporters back on side, and if it means going out into the community and doing Q&A’s having a fans fest, going out into businesses with players etc, into schools, then it is the right thing because - this is a one city football club, and it needs us all heading in the right direction again. If it means us all going to those things then so be it, we get paid like we do and we want to put something back into it because we are all in this together. Everyone wants the same results over the next few weeks or months.

Sunderland v Derby County - Sky Bet Championship
Sunderland are trying their best to improve fan morale
Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

On the importance of the first goal in a home match...

Of course, we have not had that luxury so far this season. We have had some real good starts to games; Leeds, Derby and other games we have played well and not taken the chances when they have come our way and ultimately then we have been hit with a sucker-punch. It deflates the crowd and it obviously knocks the confidence of the players. Within them games the players have showed good character to come back into the games. But I think when you get the first goal it can everybody a big boost in confidence.

On taking positives from the Brentford draw...

We review every game after we have been involved in it. To get 3-1 up of course it is disappointing but when they get the early goal it gives them a lift and it gives the crowd a lift, and they are a good footballing team as they have proved many times this year. With 20 minutes to go - I think it was when they equalised - you are fearing the worst, but we showed good character and did what was required to get a result even if it wasn't the one we wanted at half time.

Are fans buying into what Grayson is doing?

In terms of the people that I have met at another function last week, everybody thinks we are taking small steps forward to turning this around. It is not through anyone not working extremely hard because we are doing that. Look, you are always going to get people that are disappointed and frustrated and venting their frustration but that is just the nature of modern day football as it stands at this moment of time. A lot of people are desperate for us to do well and are seeing signs that it is getting better. The dressing room is a good place and there is a real good feel factor around the place.

General Views of UK Sporting Venues
“There is a real feel good factor around the place”, says Grayson...
Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

On the Grabban and Watmore partnership...

It is depending on what formation we are playing. Duncan played out-wide last week. We have got other options available to us. Again it is my decision who will play and what position to ultimately get us a result and that is all we are focusing on.

On Paddy McNair’s imminent return...

Paddy has trained all this week and has made good progress. There is a possibility he could be in the match day squad. He is not ready to start, but he is training with us. Any signs of Paddy being near the first team is good for us and him as he has had a long road to getting back to full fitness.