Mike Dean to take charge of Boro game
Premier League referee Mike Dean has been named as the appointed official for next Wednesday evening's Tees-Wear derby bout at the Riverside Stadium.
Dean has refereed Sunderland on three occasions this season, and has handed out two red cards to our players in those fixtures - he dismissed Steven Pienaar in our game against Bournemouth, and also sent on-loan midfielder Adnan Januzaj for an early shower when we visited White Hart Lane to take on Tottenham Hotspur last September.
Dean's portrayal in the football media in recent years has turned him into something of a comedy figure, and it would be fair to say that he takes himself a little bit too seriously.
That said, Dean is still regarded as one of the best officials in the Premier League and despite his flamboyant persona is renowned by players in the game for his no-nonsense approach to pulling in the box on free kicks and corners. John O'Shea beware.
Billy Jones available - despite concussion issues
The Northern Echo are today reporting that Billy Jones will be fit to play in our game with Middlesbrough next week, despite taking a nasty looking blow to the head which saw him stretchered from the field at the weekend during the second half of our fixture with West Ham.
After going shoulder-to-shoulder with Hammers' defender Arthur Masuaku on Saturday, Jones fell awkwardly and smashed his head off the turf, knocking himself out in the process.
According to the Premier League's official guidelines on the touchy subject of concussion, "a player should not feature in another game within six days of suffering a loss of consciousness and should be reintroduced to training on a gradual basis to guard against further problems."
Whether six days is enough time for the brain to properly recover from head trauma is massively debatable, and it is a subject which has dominated sport now for much of the last six years - particularly in the NFL.
Scientific research into the long-term effects of concussions in recent years has uncovered many shocking truths about the treatment of brain injuries in sport across the last century, and whilst Jones' case may seem minor it serves to highlight a problem within football that, by and large, doesn't receive anywhere near the attention that it needs.
Januzaj set for Fenerbache move?
Both the Daily Express and Turkish outlet Takvim are reporting that Manchester United may have agreed a deal with Fenerbache to loan Adnan Januzaj to the Turkish side next season, with a view to a permanent move if the Belgian winger impresses suitably.
Januzaj has failed to contribute sufficiently since arriving at Sunderland last summer and has scored just one goal, the winner in our League Cup third round victory over League One side Shrewsbury Town.
Upon arriving at Sunderland, Januzaj spoke of his wish to use the loan move to further his career as a Manchester United player, and whilst his ambitions were admirable it would be fair to say that he has ultimately failed in his task, and that due to the ineptitude shown across the majority of his Sunderland performances he is likely to have impressed nobody at Old Trafford - in particular Jose Mourinho, who has a squad already well-stocked with capable wide players.
Regardless, Januzaj will not be a Sunderland player next season and with our fate all but sealed, it makes very little sense for David Moyes to continue using him when he has other players that will likely form part of our squad in the Championship - namely Lynden Gooch and Joel Asoro - available and ready to make an impact in our remaining league fixtures.