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Roker Roundup: Striker credits Sunderland for his improvement & John O’Shea fancies management

An ex-Sunderland striker who flopped last season at the club credits his time here for his recent upturn in form, whilst John O’Shea has admitted that he’d like to enter management when his playing days are over.

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Fletcher credits Sunderland for improvement

Former Sunderland striker Ashley Fletcher has credited Sunderland for making him a better player.

The 23-year-old has started the last four games for Middlesbrough - scoring two goals in the process - and says the difficult loan spell at Sunderland last season made him grow up quickly:

Obviously I went to Sunderland last year and it was really tough, mentally it was tough but I feel like I’m a better player for it now.

I had to grow up a lot going there and playing in front of fans who have such high expectations was tough.

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images

O’Shea looking ahead

Former Sunderland captain John O’Shea has not made the decision to hang up his playing boots just yet but has admitted that he is looking to give management ‘a bash’.

Speaking as he was unveiled as an ambassador for the 2019 u-17 Championships which will take place later in the year in Ireland, the 37-year-old said he would be disappointed if he couldn’t improve players thanks to what he has learned during his playing days:

Yeah, it will be in the future, management, coaching side of things, I hope to give that a bash.

If I haven’t learned anything over the last 20-odd years, from the people that I had the pleasure to work with and played against and learned from, I‘d be disappointed if I couldn’t make an impact and help improve whether it be younger kids or senior players, whatever the case may be.

Despite only making 10 appearances for Reading this season, O’Shea said he has made no decision just yet in regards to possibly retiring at the end of the season:

I’ve made no decision on that yet, I just want to finish the season as positively as possible with Reading and look at it then.

Sunderland v Reading - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images,

Loan Roundup

Luke Molyneux turned the game around for Hartlepool United as they came from 2-0 down at home to Dover Athletic to triumph 3-2.

The Sunderland loanee came on just before the break with his side 2-0 down - and he made a big difference to the home side. First Molyneux threatened with a couple of shots, then he won a penalty that Josh Hawkes converted. Hawkes then scored another penalty to make it 2-2 before Molyneux won it in injury time with a calmly taken goal from just inside the box.

Pools manager Craig Hignett praised the Sunderland youngster for his calm head at the end:

It was a brilliant finish from Luke Molyneux. I thought he made a real difference when he came on and he just passed it in to the corner, no panic about him.

You can watch highlights of that game HERE.

Elliot Embleton started for Grimsby Town, but his side were beaten 2-1 at Crawley Town. Wes Thomas had given the Mariners an early lead, but the home side were deservedly in front by half-time thanks to two goals from Ollie Palmer. Embleton was booked for a foul in the second half as the visitors pushed for a point, but Crawley held on for all three points.

Dundee handed a start to Ethan Robson but they lost 1-0 at home to Hearts in the Scottish Premiership. Sean Clare scored the only goal in what was a difficult game due to the weather conditions.

There was also a 1-0 home defeat for an Alloa Athletic team featuring Sunderland loanee Connor Shields. Bruce Anderson scored the winning goal for Dunfermline Athletic who gave a start to academy product Tom Beadling.

Williams Kokolo was an unused substitute for Darlington as they were beaten 4-2 by Hereford United.

Lamine Kone started for Strasbourg in the 2-2 draw with Ligue 1 rivals Lyon. Ex-Celtic striker Moussa Dembele had put Lyon two goals to the good - the second of which was a penalty given away by Kone - but two quickfire goals by Ludovic Ajorque meant the points were shared.