Sunderland youngster - exit 'to be sorted by weekend'
Young Sunderland defender Michael Ledger was back in action in a red-and-white shirt on Wednesday night after his initial trial period at Norwegian club Viking FK.
Ledger took his place at the heart of Sunderland's defence as the Under-23's beat Athletic Bilbao's B side by two goals to nil. Elliot Dickman's youngsters now progress to the semi-finals of the Premier League International Cup where they will face Swansea City or Hertha Berlin.
And that may be the last Wearside sees of him for some time. According to reports in Norway, Stavanger will seek to finalise a loan move for Ledger by the weekend.
The Norwegian top-tier outfit, who are managed by Brit Ian Burchnall, are strapped for cash and have identified Ledger and an unidentified second English player as reinforcements for when the Eliteserien season starts in April.
Burchnall has been in Norway since 2012 having originally linked up with Brian Deane during the former Sunderland forward's two year stint coaching fellow first division side Sarpsborg 08.
The pair met whilst Burchnall was working at Bradford City and whilst the ex-England striker returned to these shores in 2014, his side-kick stayed on to take up his post at Viking. The Stavanger side are one of Norway's leading clubs and can boast such names as Roy Hodgson and Uwe Rosler amongst their former managers.
At 37-years-of-age, Brian Deane became Sunderland's oldest ever debutant when he was signed by Mick McCarthy in 2005. He arrived at the Stadium of Light in the March of that year in a deal until the end of the season and managed two substitute appearances as the Black Cats topped the Championship to gain promotion to the Premier League.
As for Michael Ledger, the opportunity is a tantalising prospect for a 19-year-old and the deal may go through in time for him to turn out in Viking's series of friendly matches as they warm-up for the season proper.
Lads back from New York this evening
Sunderland's four-day trip to New York is over. The Lads return to England this evening and will spend some time with their families over the weekend before the hard work really begins in preparation for their next game - a trip to Everton.
The Premier League resumes a week on Saturday and with just thirteen weeks and fourteen games left, the relegation run-in will get into full swing.
Whatever your views on the excursion to New York, the Lads seem to have had a good time judging by the Big Apple smiles plastered all over social media. The final judgement on the merits of the bonding trip will be delivered starting with the outcome of the visit to Goodison Park next week.
Ndong merely the latest to call on squad to share goal scoring burden
Didier Ndong has set a challenge for himself and his teammates to chip in with more goals to ease the burden on Jermain Defoe. With Sunderland again relying almost entirely on the 34-year-old striker to fire them to safety, the Gabonese midfielder says the team as a whole must score more to ensure Premier League football is played at the Stadium of Light next season.
Speaking to safc.com, the 22-year-old - who scored only his fifth career goal against Crystal Palace a fortnight ago - said:
I think we need to score more goals as a team and not just one man. It needs to be collectively that we're adding goals.
One thing is certain, Ndong's call is a familiar one at Sunderland and a string of players have made the same statement with little-to-no effect.
Earlier in the season, David Moyes called on Victor Anichebe to share the goalscoring burden with Jermain Defoe, only for the Nigerian hitman to score three times before being ruled out of action until mid-April.
Fabio Borini hit his first goal of the season at Old Trafford on Boxing Day and after the game the Italian boasted that scoring is "what I'm meant to do" only for that to be his only strike this campaign.
As for the rest, only Lamine Kone and Ndong have managed to hit the back of the net this season with the other goalscorer in the team - Patrick van Aanholt - having being sold to Crystal Palace last month.
Sunderland were one of a host of Premier League clubs with a representative in Belgium last night as Pro League outfit Gent staged something of an upset by beating Tottenham Hotspur in the Europa League.
English scouts in attendance at AA Gent-Spurs: Man United, Leicester, WBA, Crystal Palace and Sunderland. #mufc #lcfc #wbafc #cpfc #safc pic.twitter.com/XYOkZzAWMO— Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) February 16, 2017
Potential targets include 21-year-old Moses Simon who has supposedly been on the radar of several English clubs for some time. The Nigerian forward has been linked with Crystal Palace and Newcastle, as well as Spurs - the team he helped defeat in last night's first leg.