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ROKER ROUNDUP: International call-ups & Sunderland Academy products up for awards!

In today’s Roker Roundup, multiple Sunderland players have been called up for international duty as several Academy products are recognised for their impressive form.

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International call-ups

Jon McLaughlin and Tom Flanagan were called up by their countries earlier in the week and will turn out for Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively. As expected, Bryan Oviedo was named in the Costa Rica squad for their forthcoming international fixtures against Mexico and Colombia.

Those senior call-ups mean that our League One fixture against Blackpool has postponed.

here were also a number of academy players called up.

Elliot Embleton, who is currently on loan with League Two Grimsby Town, was named in the England under-20 squad to face Italy and the Czech Republic while Bali Mumba kept his place in the England under-18 squad as they face off against Sweden and the Czech Republic at St George’s Park.

Mumba may come up against a familiar face as Benji Kimpioka was named in the Sweden under-18 squad. All proving testament to the fact that our academy is producing some gifted young players.


Recognition for young duo

As well as being called up by his country to represent their under-18s, Kimpioka has received recognition by the Premier League for his fine form for Sunderland’s development squad.

The 18-year-old has been nominated for the Premier League 2 Player of the Month award for September - that coming shortly after the young forward made his league debut when he came on as a substitute during the 2-2 draw with Peterborough United in midweek.

Max Stryjek also received recognition this week as the Polish goalkeeper was named Eastleigh’s player of the month for September, despite only joining Stewart Donald’s former club on September 21st.

The 22-year-old has started three games for the Spitfires, but has kept clean sheets in each of them as his new team won 1-0 against Dagenham & Redbridge, Boreham Wood and Gateshead.


McGeouch on Scotland and ‘crazy’ Sunderland

One player who missed out on an international call-up was Dylan McGeouch, but in an interview with the Scottish Sun, the midfielder says he did receive a phone call telling him that he is still in Alex McLeish’s plans.

The free transfer signing from Hibernian has had a difficult start to life at Sunderland thanks to injuries as well as the impressive form of Lee Cattermole and Max Power, but he knows he will have to perform at club level if he is to break back into McLeish’s squad:

It was great to have a taste of the international scene. I had a great season at Hibs and to get a call-up was a great honour and it put the icing on the cake at the end of the campaign.

The last few games against Belgium and Albania I knew I wouldn’t be in the squad as I had a little niggle that had kept me out.

But they still phoned to let me know I was in their plans and to focus on getting myself fit again.

I want to play my way back into the squad but I know I have to do the business for Sunderland.

If I get another call-up then I will obviously be delighted, and if not, then I can always say I got to represent my country and not every player gets the chance to do that.

We have a terrific squad and I know there is plenty of competition, especially in central midfield.

Charlie Mulgrew is someone I can look up too. He came down to League One and performed well for Blackburn and he was kept in the team.

The gaffer has shown he doesn’t worry about what level you are playing that, all he is worried about is the quality of player you are and if he thinks you can do a job for him. Charlie is a prime example.

You never know what will happen in the future but I hope I can get myself back in there.

The Chronicle

The 25-year-old also talked about his reasons for leaving Scottish Premiership outfit Hibs for Sunderland saying the club is at the start of something special and that he is particularly keen on getting us back to the Premier League.

He also discussed Jack Ross and said despite his calm demeanour, he is not always Mr. Nice Guy:

There was talk of other clubs being interested in me in the summer and that was nice to hear.

I knew I was moving on from Hibs so I spoke to my agent a lot to look at the options.

There was a lot of talk in the papers about teams wanting to be kept posted about my situation without coming in with a firm offer.

When a club like this comes in for you, you have to sit up and take notice. This is a massive football club and when I spoke to the gaffer I had a good feeling about it.

I knew the reputation he had. I know a few boys who have worked with the gaffer and I spoke to them about him.

They couldn’t speak highly enough of him, but I wanted to speak to him and make up my own mind.

Once we had a chat I thought this would be the perfect place for me to progress my career and grow.

He is always constructive and I really like that in a manager and that helps to bring out the best in me as a player.

If a manager is just ranting and raving at you all the time sometimes you stop listening and it goes in one ear and out the other.

You end up getting worried about what you are doing on the park and when the next bollocking is coming.

But the gaffer puts across his message in the right way and you take it on board.

There have been times he has had to rant and rave at the team and he isn’t always Mr Nice Guy but that is a good thing.

You don’t see it all the time but you know if we aren’t performing he will come down on us.

You can’t mistake his kindness for weakness.

We want to take Sunderland back to the Premier League and the level we should be and I want to help be a part of that. I was at the good times with Hibs and I want more here.

I knew this was a big club before I arrived but once you see the passion from the fans and the fact we have more than 30,000 for a League One match, it is crazy.

The fans are on board with us and we feel we are at the start of something special.

Image: Sunderland AFC

Hopkin praises Ross

Ross’ counterpart against today’s opponents Bradford City, David Hopkin has also been full of praise for the Sunderland manager.

The pair clashed often in Scotland while Hopkin was the manager of Livingston and Ross was in charge of both Alloa Athletic and St Mirren. With the Bradford manager just about coming out on top in their seven encounters, as he won 3, drew 2 and lost 2 against Ross’ teams (scoring 10, conceding 8).

Speaking to the Telegraph and Argus, Hopkin says Ross has something about him and believes Sunderland’s strength in depth will be key this season:

He’s an intelligent man and has got something about him that he wants to show people he can do it.

Sunderland have had four or five managers over the last four years and none of them have worked out.

Jack was brave enough to go and take the challenge. You’ve got to take your hat off to him.

It was probably an opportunity he couldn’t turn down.

The expectation is massive to win the league and go straight back up.

They’ve got some fantastic players and a lot who have played Premier League football. He could probably pick two teams from his squad.

That’s the main thing that will probably see them through the season.

I’m glad that he’s come down and done well because it’s a tough job to do.

We’ve had a few battles and I’ll be looking forward to seeing him again.

He was at Alloa when I was first at Livingston and both of us were trying to get promoted from that league.

Then he went to St Mirren and had a tough time to start with. But he got his own people in and did really well to get them promoted to the Premier League.

He’s been given a fantastic opportunity at Sunderland, a massive club.

I think he deserved it. He’s level-headed and a good coach.

Bradford City v Everton U21’s: Checkatrade Trophy Photo by George Wood/Getty Images