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Mixed fortunes for 3 Sunderland players in action last night; Advocaat announces retirement

In this morning's news roundup: three Sunderland players were in action for their countries last night with mixed fortunes; Dick Advocaat has announced his retirement from football but, undeterred, his protege Jeremain Lens has reaffirmed his desire to stay with Fenerbahçe, we ponder the latest in the winger's drawn out saga.

Republic of Ireland v Wales - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

O'Shea, Pickford & Ndong in action last night

John O'Shea played 90 minutes for the Republic of Ireland last night keeping a clean sheet as the World Cup Qualifier with Wales ended in a dull stalemate.

Precious little action to report on involving the Sunderland man except that Gareth Bale was booked for a crazy lunge on him which earned the Real Madrid superstar a yellow card and a resultant suspension for Wales' next game.

Republic of Ireland v Wales - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier
John O'Shea battling Sam Vokes of Wales last night
Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

Jordan Pickford was also in action yesterday for the England Under-21s. The Young Lions were beaten by a goal-to-nil in Germany and in truth were second best all evening.

Pickford made a great save in the first half, reacting instinctively to block a certain goal worked from a German corner, but he was caught wrong-footed minutes later as Hoffenheim's Nadiem Amiri fired from the edge of the box to catch the Sunderland goalkeeper on his heels and score.

Didier Ndong was in the Gabon side which drew 2-2 with Guinea in France last night. The game was played at the Stade Oceane in Le Havre and the Sunderland midfielder's side had the best of the game but had to snatch a draw in the final minute of the match.

Joel Asoro is in the Spanish city of Marbella for a training camp with Sweden's Under-21s who are playing two friendlies. The young Sunderland forward didn't make the team which were beaten by Serbia last night.

Dick Advocaat announces retirement

Former Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat has announced he will retire from football at the end of the season.

Sunderland v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty images

And whilst Black Cats' supporters could be forgiven for exclaiming 'what, again?', it was at the end of last week that the veteran manager made public his desire to hang up his coaching badges this summer,

I am leaving the club by the end of the season. I don't see any harm announcing my decision. If I had not, the management would have done it anyway.

This hasn't been a vintage season for Fenerbahçe - the club at which Advocaat will end his long career in football. The Istanbul giants sit in an uncharacteristic third place in the Turkish Super Lig some nine points behind leaders Besiktas and the Dutch coach has been under concerted pressure of late.

Advocaat was minded to retire after he saved Sunderland from relegation in 2015 but was persuaded to postpone his plans and stay on - a stint that would last just eight league games before he departed having quickly grown disillusioned with the job at the Stadium of Light.

There were further hints that the 69-year-old had decided to finally retire at that point, but he took up a coaching job with the Netherlands national side after leaving Sunderland and then joined Fenerbahçe as technical director in August last year.

Manchester United FC v Fenerbahce SK - UEFA Europa League
Dick Advocaat on the touchline as Fenerbahce boss
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Advocaat's managerial career has spanned four different decades and seen him take charge of clubs as diverse as PSV Eindhoven, Rangers, AZ Alkmaar and of course Sunderland. He has also had spells in international management with Holland, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Serbia.

But Jeremain Lens Plans to Stay on, though Fener can't afford him

Sunderland winger Jeremain Lens has worked with Dick Advocaat at four different clubs - AZ Alkmaar, PSV, Sunderland and now Fenerbahçe but in the wake of his mentor announcing his departure from the game, the 29-year-old has reiterated his desire to stay at the Istanbul-based club beyond this season's loan spell,

I want Fenerbahçe, I like Istanbul very much. I want to be a champion with this club.

Lens playing for Fenerbahce this season

The only problem is, Fenerbahçe likely can't afford him.

Despite being linked with Mesut Ozil earlier in the week, reports in Turkey suggest Fenerbahçe's spending power will be curtailed this summer. Observers believe the club may be unable to purchase Jeremain Lens at the end of his loan spell due to restrictions caused by Financial Fair Play regulations.

Reports elsewhere have seized on the same report to claim Sunderland have recently told Fenerbahçe they will only sell Lens for a figure somewhere close to the original £13-million they shelled out for him in 2015. But that's nothing new - the Black Cats appear to have held to that line all season.

Lens will be part of the Netherlands squad which takes on Bulgaria in a World Cup Qualifier this evening and has been one of the star performers in the Turkish Supa Lig this season.

Meanwhile, elements of the north east press appear to have used this Turkish article to suggest Sunderland have no interest in a swap deal involving the Dutch winger. The report claims that the Black Cats have snubbed an offer from Fenerbahçe to trade Lens for international midfielder Ozan Tufan.

Czech Republic v Turkey - Group D: UEFA Euro 2016
Ozan Tufan in action last summer - looking chunky even before his recent weight gain
Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Tufan has been linked with Sunderland before - last summer - when he was also said to be a target for Everton and Southampton. Back then he was being hailed as the 'new Yaya Toure'. Right now he's anything but, with Turkish observers slamming him for his performances and for being blatantly overweight - a fact he even acknowledged himself recently, saying

Some of the criticisms are tough but they are justified. I do not like myself right now. I started work to lose weight.

On second thoughts, it sounds like he might fit right in here.

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