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QUICK KICKS: Sunderland’s new boys impress on 1st outing - FINALLY, WE HAVE A DECENT GOALKEEPER!

Despite action ending early last night at the Riverside Stadium, there were still plenty of positives to take from what was a very good Sunderland performance against a full-strength Boro side.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

New boys impress on first outing

Whilst last night’s game was ultimately cut short, it did afford the traveling Sunderland fans the opportunity to watch Glenn Loovens and Jerome Sinclair for the first time in a Sunderland shirt - and it would be fair to say that they both played quite well.

Loovens was up against some top opposition in Britt Assombalonga and Adama Traore but was solid, cool on the ball and imposing in the tackle. He stuck one right on Traore on the half-way line when there was a 50/50 to be won, and immediately it endeared me to him as he left Boro’s best player in a heap on the floor.

Many of Sunderland’s attacks started from the back, through Loovens and Flanagan, and it was pleasing to see even just a glimpse of what he’s capable of.

Up top, Sinclair played off the left hand side in the absence of Chris Maguire and had a good half. He was always looking to run at and commit defenders, and was incredibly unfortunate not to score after his well-taken strike was just turned away by the foot of Darren Randolph in the Middlesbrough goal.

The early signs are fairly pleasing, and I’d expect that both men will be involved from the start when we play against Charlton Athletic at the Stadium of Light next weekend.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Weather ruined a good game!

Me and the thousand or so other Sunderland supporters in the away end last night ultimately left the Riverside Stadium disappointed having witnessed what was a very entertaining first half of football.

I was gutted that the game got cut short - both sides played well, and whilst we were just edging it it would have been interesting to see how the rest of the game would have panned out had play resumed.

The biblical conditions soon passed over, but having suffered from the heat for what feels like months now it was certainly strange to see hailstones landing when we’re just days from the start of August.

Injuries a slight concern

Before the game even started we learned that Lee Cattermole and Chris Maguire were missing through injury/illness, and then during the action we saw Dylan McGeouch leave the field with a thigh problem.

In his interview after the game, Jack Ross admitted that the game being abandoned probably did us a favour as we were going to have to make further substitutions due to niggles that had been picked up during the first half.

And then, on top of that, Reece James and Aiden McGeady have missed much of pre-season due to problems that they’ve been nursing - though it’s not thought that they’ll be missing for too much longer.

It’s not that I’m worried, but it must be disrupting having to deal with so many injuries to key players before a ball has even been kicked in League One. Here’s hoping that by the time action gets underway next weekend, the Sunderland manager will have a much larger pool of players to select from.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

McLaughlin - a proper keeper

I thought that I’d end with a quick word on our new goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin, who I have to say has thoroughly impressed me right throughout pre-season with his displays between the sticks for Sunderland.

He made a superb save when one-on-one with Paddy McNair, and also nearly bagged himself an assist when releasing Lynden Gooch down the pitch with a Pickford-esque side-volley into a dangerous area.

Last night he was commanding, quick off his line and his distribution of the ball was very good. He’s given us a good idea of what he’s capable of before the season begins, and I think that fans should be fairly excited about the fact we’ve managed to secure ourselves a goalkeeper who is clearly capable of playing above this level.

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