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Roker Roundup: New Sunderland signing lays bare why being here means so much to him emotionally

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One of Sunderland’s latest recruits has opened up on why playing for the club means so much to him, whilst Jerome Sinclair has spoken out on how he loved his time on Wearside.

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Sinclair praises Sunderland

Jerome Sinclair had his loan deal at Sunderland cancelled last month, with the Watford forward going on to join Saturday’s opponents Oxford United on loan until the end of the season.

Ahead of the clash, Sinclair spoke to the U’s match day programme and revealed that he enjoyed his time with Sunderland, despite struggling to make an impact, and believes it was a privilege to play for the club:

I think it’s going to be a good game between two good sides. I was injured and didn’t play in the game at Sunderland but I watched it and thought Oxford looked like a really good team.

The lads beat Portsmouth and then Barnsley in the last two games here so we definitely have the ability to get another big win.

I enjoyed my time at Sunderland. It is the focus for the whole area so you are always under scrutiny. It did take me by surprise a little bit if I’m totally honest.

I knew it was a big club but it’s only when you play for them you really appreciate it. A 40,000 seater stadium and the fans care so passionately so the club is always in people’s minds, all around the town.

But I felt privileged to play for the club and their fanbase is huge so we know they will have a great support on Saturday and it will be a good game.

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Howe tips former target for first team berth

Young Bournemouth striker Sam Surridge was strongly linked with a loan move to Sunderland during the last week of the transfer window, thanks in part to a successful loan spell at Oldham Athletic earlier in the season.

Surridge was also linked with a number of other clubs but no loan move materialised with Eddie Howe insisting that the striker be a part of his first team squad during the second half of the season:

We had a lot of interest in Sam which was a testament to how well he did at Oldham. A host of clubs at varying levels would have taken him, which is a great confidence boost for him.

But we felt it was right that we did what was best for us and Sam in the sense of keeping him here, keeping him around the team and developing him behind the scenes in training, with the potential of using him in the team.

That would be a great moment for him. Let’s see what the season brings in that respect but he is certainly getting very close.

He is a very level-headed lad and a really down-to-earth guy. He is not a minute’s problem and is very motivated, which is the big thing with Sam. You can see his motivation by how he trains.

He wants to be at a very high level every day and if he carries on with that attitude, his career will only go one way.

Fulham v Oldham Athletic - FA Cup Third Round Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Leadbitter emotional to be back home

Grant Leadbitter returned home to Sunderland late in the January transfer window, as the 33-year-old penned a two-and-a-half year deal that should see him end his playing days at his boyhood club.

Leadbitter, whose father Brian’s ashes are buried on the side of the Stadium of Light pitch, says moving home to Sunderland is an emotional experience and his second debut for the club was the first some of his family had attended since his father passed away:

Let me tell you, it’s an experience, I can tell you that. Sometimes I get caught up in it all, but now sometimes I also can laugh. Yeah, it’s an experience.

My Dad used to go to all the games, took me as a two year-old to Roker Park, the Fulwell End. I kept going all the way through, up until I became a professional. He kept going.

After Saturday’s game, I’d to do something upstairs for the club and when I looked over I saw a friend of my Dad’s who he used to go with – Stu. I’d not seen him for years. It was nice, strange. I stopped my speech to go over and say hello.

My Dad used to love [Marco] Gabbiadini, Gatesy [Eric Gates]. He used to speak about Jimmy Montgomery, Bobby Kerr. When he passed away I got in touch with a few of his favourite players and they carried his coffin. Monty was one. I saw Monty on Saturday. Every time I see him I’m grateful.

So the connection is deep, deep in the family. It will always be. That’s what my Dad wanted, where he wanted to be.

Saturday was the first time my Mum’s been back. At the beginning it was too painful to go and my Mum felt that. It was the first time my sisters had been back. There were times when you felt like going but you’ve to respect the football club. You can’t knock on the door.

It’s taken a few years but I’ve got my head around it. The situation is the situation and everyone knows it here.

Now I’ve to look at it as a job. It’s a challenge and if we succeed it’ll be even better for me because my Dad’s there. But if we don’t succeed, there’s no point going on about it.

You can read Leadbitter’s interview with iNews in full HERE.