Two of Sunderland’s first team squad took a few hours out of their afternoon on Tuesday to head out into the community.
Will Grigg and Reece James tried their hand at fire-fighting down at Peterlee Fire station to highlight the dangers of arson. Once they were finished up, they took a moment to chat about their respected seasons and the importance of the run in.
“I think it [firefighting] runs in my family, my dad was a fireman,” James spoke of how he had an added reason for being at the Fire station. “It’s great being down here, seeing what the guys do and how hard it can be.”
James gave an update on his recent injury problems, with a return to first team action just around the corner:
I’ve started running outside again so hopefully I’ll be ready for the run in.
The last few seasons have been problematic with injuries so for me it’s been good to get so many games under my belt.
@WillGrigg and Reece James feel the heat!— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) April 17, 2019
https://t.co/bJKULETWdG#SAFC #FIREUPOURCITY ⬆️ pic.twitter.com/xa1SX1qa9o
His stint in the treatment room has given Reece James and Bryan Oviedo a chance to battle it out for the left-back position, he commented in this competition:
They’ve both come in and done well in the side, which is great to see.
It’s what you want at this point in the season.
We need to make sure that everyone is chomping at the bit to play.
The boss was the recipient of high praise from James:
He [Jack Ross] is always around to come and see you and talk to you around the training ground. He’s good with this both on and off the pitch.
Everyone has had the down moment from the weekend, it was good to get that out the way early on to then build for the match on Friday.
It was refreshing to hear that the positive attitude we have seen from everyone involved with the club this season is still going strong.
James’ former Wigan team-mate Will Grigg also gave his thoughts on recent events at the club, including being paired upfront with a strike partner:
It’s not something I’ve ever really done before in my career. I’ve usually played on my own, when Charlie is up there it gives us a different dimension. I’m really enjoying it.
Grigg has played for Ross for a lot less time than many other players in the squad, yet the praise for how the Sunderland manager has worked with his squad was aplenty from the Northern Ireland striker:
He’s been brilliant.
I’ve been impressed with everything about him. His tactics and management style have been fantastic.
We’ve had a few disappointing results but he’s always quick to get us moving again.
You must draw back on the experiences you have. I’ve achieved final day promotions and others where it has gone down to the wire. I want to help both on and off the pitch, giving the lads advice and confidence.
The pressure of going straight back up to the championship is something which Grigg has noticed, but he definitely brought people back down to earth:
People do expect us, because of the size and history of the club, to go up. its one of the things you need to deal with. It’s tough to get promoted out of any division. It seems easy from the outset, but its not. I think we have enough in us to do the business.
Saturday’s bizarre 5-4 defeat to Coventry City was brought up, Will assuring that the response from the manager and players is one which the fans would have wanted:
Straight after the game everyone was down but the gaffer came in and said that obviously we knew it wasn’t good enough.
As a group we’ve always bounced back with the result.
The pressure is on in the final games but if there is anyone capable of dealing with it its those players in that dressing room.
The community event at Peterlee Fire station was something which is always refreshing to see. Players, supporters and fanzines came together in unity; something which would have seemed impossible before this season.