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Recap: Watmore suffers set-back; Fresh goalkeeper links & Moyes hints at injuries for derby

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In this evening's news recap: David Moyes has been in front of the media for his pre-Middlesbrough press conference and Sunderland are one of a host of clubs linked with a move for a Premier League goalkeeper.

Sunderland v Everton - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The wooden spoon derby

The race to the bottom, the biggest loser, scraping the barrel. The first Tees-Wear derby in the league since January 2009. And look at the state of it.

The outcome barely matters, 'bragging rights' are futile and this north east clash between two rivals about to drop out of the top tier is set against celebrations on Tyneside as Newcastle are confirmed as one who will replace Sunderland and Middlesbrough in the Premier League.

But, there's a game of football to be played and it is still a local derby.

Middlesbrough v Arsenal - Premier League
The Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

The Wearsiders travel to Teesside tomorrow night three points behind Middlesbrough and with a game in hand. The match was billed as a 'relegation crunch fixture' but with both Sunderland and 'Boro in abject form, hopes of survival are all but dead.

Neither side have experienced the joy of winning in their last 8 games and the fight has been punched out of the two sets of supporters. But with a long summer of recrimination and soul-searching to follow for both clubs, a morale-boosting victory over a rival can do no harm.

Add to that joyous heady mix this afternoon's press conferences held by the managers of the Premier League's two worst sides and most could be forgiven for switching off until August.

But we must try. Here's what David Moyes and Steve Agnew had to say about tomorrow night's fixture as well as what's been in the news this afternoon.


Moyes - Sunderland are not in bad form

Sunderland have conceded seven goals in three games in the month of April and have picked up a single point, but David Moyes believes his team have been doing OK in patches:

We have played well in recent games. We have had good moments. I think there's signs of us making a bit of an improvement. We need to stop conceding and score more.

Indeed, the Sunderland boss suggested his side have progressed since that disappointing defeat to Middlesbrough back in August and that the Black Cats have developed under his leadership:

I think we're in better condition now than we were when we played Middlesbrough at the start of the season.

That, of course was the game after which Moyes suggested Sunderland would be in a relegation battle. Infamous words now, but the Wear-Tees derby of 2017 was also - with hindsight - a clear indication of how bad this season would pan out.

Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Premier League
David Moyes and Jermain Defoe in the first encounter between Sunderland and Middlesbrough this season
Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Agnew - Middlesbrough are not in bad form

Despite being battered on the south coast by Bournemouth, Middlesbrough boss Steve Agnew believes his side have been doing alright:

As I’ve been saying, we’ve been creating chances and haven’t scored the goals I think we’ve deserved. On Saturday that wasn’t the case but now I’m looking forward to Sunderland. We’re back on track and hopefully we can convert the chances.

AFC Bournemouth v Middlesbrough - Premier League
Steve Agnew at the Vitality Stadium Bournemouth before his side were thrashed last weekend
Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

Both managers looking for a win

Moyes - We can win:

There is a belief in the squad we can get three points tomorrow night.

Agnew - We can win:

We have to win and we’re very focused and looking forward to it.


Managers on the derby & giving the fans a boost

Moyes:

It is such a big game for both clubs...It is important we give the fans something to cheer about. We haven’t done that enough this season.

Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Premier League
Sunderland supporters at the Stadium of Light in 2008 when Sunderland took on Middlesbrough in the Premier League
Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Agnew:

We have to give the supporters something to shout about because they’ve had a long hard season.

It’s a North East derby, and the passion and the energy that will come from 30,000 Teessiders is everything the players need.

Sunderland v Middlesbrough - FA Cup Fourth Round
Middlesbrough fans at the Stadium of Light in 2012
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Billy Jones will return, but there may be others ruled out

Forced off with concussion after smacking his head off the ground against West Ham, Sunderland right-back Billy Jones is fit to play against Middlesbrough.

Sunderland v West Ham United - Premier League
Billy Jones receives treatment on the pitch after banging his head
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Bryan Oviedo will still be on the sidelines for the opposite full-back slot so Javier Manquillo will likely continue on the left-hand side of defence.

Aside from that, Moyes indicated he has a near full strength team from the one which faced West Ham to pick from, but hinted at least one Sunderland player will be assessed tomorrow and may yet miss out:

We've got one or two more niggles. We might have to have a look at someone tomorrow to see how they are.


Watmore set-back

Sunderland winger Duncan Watmore has suffered a set-back in his quest to return to fitness and may need to undergo surgery for a second time on the knee which has kept him out since mid-December.

The 23-year-old may now miss the start of pre-season training and what was already looking like being an arduous road to recovery, just got that bit longer.

Stoke City v Sunderland - Premier League
Duncan Watmore in action last October
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Goalkeeping rumours continue

With Jordan Pickford set to depart the Stadium of Light at the end of the season and Vito Mannone seemingly likely to follow suit, David Moyes will be in the market for at least one goalkeeper this summer, if not two.

Sunderland v Manchester United - Premier League
Jordan Pickford up against Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

And Sky Sports have claimed Sunderland are keeping tabs on Hull City's Switzerland international Eldin Jakupovic. The 32-year-old is out of contract next summer so may be open to considering his options at the end of this season.

The Black Cats are said to be one of a number of clubs keeping tabs on the Tigers' stopper with Crystal Palace, Leicester, Watford and Aston Villa also thought to be keen.

Hull City v Burnley - Premier League
Eldin Jakupovic
Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images