Smart expected to return to Basingstoke
Promising youngster Sam Smart missed Tuesday’s game between Basingstoke and Hartley Witney due to joining Sunderland on trial. The forward played and impressed during the under-23s 3-1 loss to Middlesbrough on Monday evening, and even won a penalty that the returning Duncan Watmore subsequently missed.
However, according to the Basingstoke Gazette he is expected back at his parent club before their weekend fixture against King’s Lanley.
Smart is still under contract with his club and when the 20-year-old joined Championship outfit Sheffield Wednesday on trial in the summer, Basingstoke said any deal would require a transfer fee.
Whether Sunderland are prepared to part with some cash in order to bring the youngster to Wearside is as yet unknown, but with January approaching and with the club looking to bolster their U23s squad with further talented additions, it won’t be a surprise if Smart - particularly following his impressive showing on Monday - returns back to Sunderland in order to show again what he’s capable of.
Several additions to Elliott Dickman’s squad were made in the summer, and most recently the club gave a contract to French forward Lilyan Compper as they bid to not only strengthen the pool of young players that we have, but also unearth gems from the non-league scene, like Sam Smart, that we might have otherwise overlooked in the recent past.
Etuhu match-fixing trial set to start
Former Sunderland midfielder Dickson Etuhu’s match-fixing trial is set to start later today at Stockholm District Court.
Etuhu is accused of approaching his former AIK team-mate Kenny Stamatopoulos to throw a game that was due to be played against IFK Gothenburg in May 2017 but that game had to be postponed due to the allegations against the former Sunderland man.
Etuhu protested his innocence earlier this week, saying it was just a misunderstanding:
I respect everyone’s opinion, but the facts remain the same - it never happened. It’s unbelievable that an ordinary conversation with a friend can lead to something like this.
According to Stamatopoulos, Etuhu asked him if he was interested in joining and fixing a match and when the goalkeeper stated he wasn’t, the accused said a team-mate had already been offered money with Etuhu reportedly saying:
I promise you, on my children, that it is the guy you least expect.
Etuhu has been charged with gross bribery, an offence that carries a maximum jail term of six years.