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Roker Roundup: Former Academy defender talks about ‘tough world’ after his Sunderland release

An ex-Sunderland defender has talked about the ‘tough world’ he entered after his Sunderland release, whilst Bryan Oviedo’s absence from Costa Rica’s recent squad has been explained.

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Egan on ‘step down’ from Sunderland

Sunderland academy product John Egan is in the Republic of Ireland squad for their upcoming fixtures against Northern Ireland and Denmark.

Speaking ahead of those games, Egan discussed leaving Sunderland, dropping down the divisions to join Gillingham and how that meant he was one of only a few of his Sunderland team-mates to make in the professional game:

I think I’ve gone up another level, from a personal perspective this season, Sheffield United is a really big club and I want to reach the Premier League with them.

It’s weird that people thought I was taking a step down by joining Gillingham from Sunderland because I’ve been on the rise since.

League One then was a major improvement on reserve team football and those two years earned me the move to Brentford.

Football is a tough world. A lot of the lads I played with in the Sunderland youth team with are gone completely from the the game. Jordan Pickford is still going and doing really well and there’s only myself and a couple more out of 30 players.

That’s a crazy low rate. I’m still in there and really enjoying my career.

York City v Sunderland - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Paul Thomas/Getty Images

Costa Rica coach explains Oviedo absence

Bryan Oviedo started for Sunderland last night in their 1-0 Checkatrade Trophy win at Morecambe but, despite that, the 28-year-old was left out of the Costa Rica squad for the next round of international fixtures.

Costa Rica’s interim head coach Ronald Gonzalez has been explaining Oviedo’s absence ahead of the games against Chile and Peru. Speaking to the local media, Gonzalez said that Sunderland had informed him a couple of weeks ago that the left-back had been suffering from a calf injury and, as of last Tuesday was still unavailable:

We received a statement 10 days ago that told us that he had a problem in the soleus muscle, that he was going to undergo some exams and that they could not tell us if he was going to be for this squad.

Bryan did a workout on Tuesday and he’s definitely not recovered. So we had to dispense with him totally on this occasion.

Costa Rica v Colombia Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Evans on great Sunderland experience

John Egan could come up against another former Sunderland central defender on international duty this week, as his Republic of Ireland team faces Northern Ireland and Jonny Evans.

The Leicester City defender has been looking back on his time playing under Ireland’s assistant manager Roy Keane and says it was a great experience:

It was my first time playing competitive league football in England. When you are a young player and making your way up, you always wonder whether you can make that next step up and it was the next progression for me at that time.

I was grateful that Roy gave me that opportunity to go to Sunderland as I had been on loan at Antwerp.

I thought that I was going to be there (in Belgium) for the season, but then word went around that Sunderland were interested and he was the manager.

It was a no-brainer and I could not wait to get up there. It was a great experience.

The 30-year-old says despite that Sunderland spell being so long ago, he still plays as if Keane is watching him, such was his influence:

He was the player I looked up to most when I was growing up as a United fan.

He was the United captain and then I went on to play for him at Sunderland in two loan spells.

He was a big inspiration for me and I still think of him a lot when I am on the pitch. I think, ‘Well, if Roy Keane was in this situation and things were tough, then he’d roll his sleeves up and continue fighting’.

Sometimes maybe I think, ‘Is he still watching me?’.

He’s still got that hold on me!

Sunderland v Portsmouth - Barclays Premier League Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images