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Catts’ on Tees-Wear derby; Villa & Boro linked with Sunderland 'targets' & 3 more talking points

In this evening's news roundup: Lee Cattermole has been previewing a return to his former club as Sunderland prepare to travel to Middlesbrough; transfer gossip over the weekend has indicated a growing trend; a former Black Cats technical scout rejoins his mentor at Celtic; and could Pele have kept us up?

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

Cattermole v Middlesbrough

Sunderland have played Middlesbrough four times since Lee Cattermole arrived at the Stadium of Light but Wednesday's Tees-Wear fixture will only be the second time that the 29-year-old has faced his former club.

Sunderland v West Ham United - Premier League
Cattermole in discussion with referee Andre Marriner last time out against West Ham
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Catts was injured each previous time Wearside has played Teesside, except for the 2012 Capital One Cup encounter, so he has more reason than most to be relishing this week's league derby game.

Speaking to safc.com, the midfielder who has made three starts since his latest return from injury following surgery last year, said of the trip down the A19:

When I had the operation, I was told the time it would take me to get back. It fell straight on the Middlesbrough game but I knew it would've been a big ask even if I thought I could make the bench for that game...

We have played them in a couple of games and I was buzzing, absolutely buzzing, but I was injured and missed them all in the end.

It has been a massive shame because it is a game I have always wanted to play in.

With both Sunderland and Middlesbrough almost certain to be relegated and occupying the bottom two places in the Premier League, this derby has all the feel of a wooden spoon event. But, there'll more than likely be a couple of fresh rounds next season in the Championship.


Travel info for Wednesday

Speaking of which, here's some info from today's press release from SAFC for those travelling down on Wednesday night:

Sunderland supporters are advised that only limited places remain on the free coaches to and from the Riverside Stadium.

Supporters wishing to use the buses provided by Sunderland AFC must collect a pass from the Stadium of Light ticket office in advance, which is open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 9am until 5pm.

Passes must be retained and shown, in order to board the buses from the Riverside back to the Stadium of Light and supporters without passes will not be permitted to travel.

Concourse facilities, offering food and drink to purchase (including alcohol), will be open in the east stand of the Stadium of Light from 4pm on Wednesday afternoon. The coaches will begin boarding from the GREEN car park, outside the ticket office, at 5pm and will depart for Middlesbrough promptly at 5.30pm. On arrival at the Riverside Stadium, Sunderland supporters will be guided directly to the away turnstiles.

Only those coaches forming part of the official escort will be allowed to park at the stadium and will be located adjacent to the visitors’ turnstiles and exits. No further vehicles can now be accommodated, therefore any additional coaches or minibuses travelling independently must secure their own parking arrangements (see below) before travelling to the area, as they will not be permitted to park at the stadium.

Travel/parking

Supporters choosing to travel independently are strongly advised to plan ahead, allowing extra time for their journey in order to negotiate peak-time traffic and source parking locations. There will be no spaces in official car parks at the stadium and enforcement officers will be on duty to deter illegal roadside parking.

Matchday parking information, including details of restrictions, can be viewed online at http://www.visitmiddlesbrough.com/visitor-info/football.

Supporters are strongly advised to make use of the free coaches, however those planning to travel by train are advised that there is no late service and they should therefore make alternative arrangements for their journey from Middlesbrough back to Sunderland.

General Views of UK Sporting Venues Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Villa & Boro linked with same targets as Sunderland

Sunderland haven't been relegated yet, but the weekend saw a fresh flurry of transfer links to Championship players.

And already the summer is shaping up to be one which pits the Black Cats against Aston Villa and Middlesbrough in particular in a pursuit of the finest that England's second-tier has to offer. At least according to the gossip columns and transfer rumour sites that is.

The Birmingham Mail are today reporting that Steve Bruce is monitoring Barnsley captain Marc Roberts. The centre-half has already been linked with Sunderland by the Sun earlier this month.

Barnsley v Northampton Town - EFL Cup
Marc Roberts
Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

And Middlesbrough and Sunderland are said to be prepared to battle it out for Chelsea striker Tammy Abrahams who has done well at Bristol City with 23 goals this season. The Mirror indicated over the weekend that the Teessiders are 'leading the chase' for the promising striker.

Aaron Mooy is a wanted man by the 'bigger' clubs who will make up the Championship next season. Sunderland have already been linked with the Manchester City midfielder who has been on loan at Huddersfield this season as have Middlesbrough. Though at the weekend the player's agent denied 'Boro had been in touch but did confirm that "loads and loads of clubs have been to watch Aaron play".

Huddersfield Town v Burton Albion - Sky Bet Championship
Aaron Mooy (R)
Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

And finally, Sam Gallagher - who David Moyes is said to have had watched several times - is also said to be wanted by Aston Villa.

The Championship - a limited talent pool?


Former Head of Technical Scouting joins Congerton

Former Sunderland Head of Technical Scouting, Laban Scott Libby, has joined the Lee Congerton revolution at Celtic according to the Scottish Sun.

Libby left the employ of Sunderland AFC last November. You likely haven't even heard of him but as head of the technical scouting team at the Stadium of Light the Loughborough University graduate played a key role in player recruitment at the club.

Laban Scott Libby - taken from his Linkedin profile

Technical scouts tend to be responsible for tracking and analysing transfer targets as well as providing data and intelligence on opponents.

Libby had been with Sunderland since April 2014 and previously worked at Chelsea and Hamburger SV with former Director of Football Lee Congerton.

It's never been publicly outlined why the local lad who turned out for Hendon FC as a goalkeeper in his youth was removed from his position at SAFC.


Could Pele have saved Sunderland from relegation?

Had Sunderland signed the greatest footballer who ever lived - Pele - at the start of this season, his addition would have kept David Moyes' team in the Premier League.

Liverpool v Manchester United - Premier League
"I could have kept you up" - Pele
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

That's the startling revelation from the Sun's Dream Team website based on some bloke replicating this season on computer game FIFA17 with the Brazilian legend added into the Sunderland squad.

By bringing in a player with Pele's 'exact stats' including his height, weight and individual skill points, the Brazilian legend would have contributed 13 goals and 6 assists and Sunderland would have finished the season in 11th place.

Someone should have said earlier.