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ROKER ROUNDUP: Released Sunderland man finds himself a new club - and he’ll face us this season

Having left Sunderland in the summer, Kazenga LuaLua has finally found himself a new club - and he could well line up for them later in the season when they come to the Stadium of Light.

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Youngster explains move

Sunderland academy product Sam Greenwood left the club during the summer after he was snapped up by Arsenal.

The 16-year-old was recently featured in the Gunners’ matchday programme and in it he spoke of his reasons for joining Arsenal and the differences between the two academies:

I was both excited and apprehensive about coming down from Sunderland to join Arsenal. Leaving my town, friends and family was quite daunting, it felt like a big task, but I was keen to push myself and now that I’m here I feel fully settled.

Even where I live in digs in St Albans, it feels busier than back home. I live in the home of our landlady Rachel with Alfie Matthews, who is also a scholar. That’s been a big help because we talk about all things football and support each other. I’m very much enjoying being at a big club like Arsenal. It’s a big challenge for me and I’m relishing it. I’m at a club where I feel I can take myself to a new level.

The first thing that struck me was that the club deals with every aspect. It’s not just the coaches and training that are a cut above, but the attention to detail such as diet, gym programmes, conditioning etc. The players in the under-18 squad are also at a higher standard and we play in a way that I like: fast passing football where we like to control possession. I feel that as a group we are getting better and better.

Greenwood scored his first goal for the club in an under-18s clash with Southampton - which you can see below - and he said he now wants to push on and feature for the under-23s.

I’ve set myself a target of doing well in the under-18s to help the team perform well and win trophies, but I also want to feature in the under-23s if possible. I always feel I’m better when I push myself and set targets. In the under-23s you play with and against older experienced players and I see that as both a challenge and a big learning opportunity.


Pickford extends contract

Another Sunderland academy product was in the news yesterday as Jordan Pickford signed a new six-year deal with Everton.

The goalkeeper signed for the Toffees a little over the year ago from Sunderland - for a then club-record fee of £30m - and had originally signed a five-year contract for the club but after excelling over the course of last season and then starring for England during the World Cup, Everton have moved to tie him down to a longer term deal.

Chelsea v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Released duo in the news

Two of last season’s relegation squad have had good news this week.

Firstly, Billy Jones has been a bit-part player at Rotherham United so far this season after playing catch up during pre-season and then picking up an injury. That led to Zak Vyner becoming the Millers’ first choice right back, but Jones started the weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest and his display led to plaudits from Rotherham boss Paul Warne:

I thought he was pretty outstanding to be honest.

He was unlucky with his booking but apart from that he didn’t really put a foot wrong.

You can see why I brought him to the club, there was one clearance when it came to him, he didn’t panic, had a great touch and played a great ball forward.

In the second half every decision he made was right, I’m really pleased for him, he got through the game.

It will be good for him to get a game in and I will look to see how I go next week.

Kazenga LuaLua never had much of a look-in for Sunderland after Chris Coleman signed him from Brighton and has been without a club since being released alongside Billy Jones in the summer.

The 27-year-old may face Sunderland this season however, as he has signed a deal until the end of the season with League One rivals Luton Town.

Nathan Jones was delighted to add the winger to his squad after chasing his signature since before the season kicked off:

I’ve known Kazenga for a long time having worked with him at Brighton, and he’s a fantastic talent. He has something that not many have, totally different from what we have here.

We knew he was available and I’ve tried to get this done for a little while now, so it’s not just been recently. I spoke to Kazenga and his agent before the season started, but the fact that we’ve been able to get him in and persuade him to come here is a good coup for us.

He’s a real attacking footballer and we know which role he’s going to play for us because we don’t generally play with wingers, although we do at times. He’s a quick, powerful, potent attacking player which is something that is in rare supply – and is something we felt we needed.


Youngsters shine

Luke Molyneux got his first assist for Gateshead in their win over Barrow on Tuesday night and he must be making a good impression with the Heed as they have been showing off his skills and assist on Twitter.

Max Stryjek has also been a shining light for Eastleigh despite only joining Stewart Donald’s previous club on Friday.

The Polish ‘keeper already has two clean sheets and a penalty save to his name and the club took to Twitter to shout about his accomplishments so far:

It’s not just on the pitch that our youngsters have been making an impact, with first team players Lynden Gooch and Duncan Watmore turning up to make a Sunderland fan’s birthday very special: