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Roker Roundup: Sunderland trialist Demetri Mitchell talks about his footballing future

Ex-Manchester United left wing back Demetri Mitchell - who has spent most of pre-season training with Sunderland in a bid to win a contract - has given an interview discussing where his career is at.

Manchester United Pre-Season Training Session Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Trialist wants to push for first team football

Former Manchester United left back Demetri Mitchell has been on trial at the Academy of Light as he looks to earn a contract ahead of the new season.

Mitchell, who was released by United in the summer and has also been interesting Luton Town, has been talking to the Edinburgh Evening News about how he now needs first team football.

The 23-year-old says he has had a difficult 18 months due to injury, missing an opportunity to go out on loan in January and then lockdown:

It’s been a tough 18 months but I’ve worked hard through it, right now after the lockdown, I think the little break has given me a little bit of time to relax the body.

I’ve been training for about eight weeks and feeling good. Feeling really good.

It’s been 18 months without a game but, really, it hasn’t been because I was fit the back end of January, missed the chance to go out on loan.

There was really about 11 to 12 months because I was back fit again in February, but obviously the lockdown’s happened so those extra months have added on.

Once he recovered from his meniscus injury, he focused on getting as fit as he could so he could find a club where he can start playing first team football:

When I came back after the injury, I just kind of knew I need to get myself as fit as possible for this time now.

I am 23 now, it’s time to move on and get more first-team football under my belt.

United is all I’ve known, really, but going on loan really broadened my perspective on men’s football, so that was kind of a big thing.

Although he was released in the summer, Mitchell explained that Ole Gunnar Solksjaer had told him that he wanted him to be involved in the Manchester United first team but bad timing with injuries and the emergence of Brandon Williams at left back saw that opportunity pass him by:

I spoke to the current manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, at the back of last season, I was quite surprised myself because I’d never worked with him and he was new to me, anyway. He said like he wants me involved and there’s a future here for me.

I was just on the cusp of getting back fit and then I came back training and my knee just wasn’t right at the time.

I had a little few niggles and stuff. It just wasn’t right for me, so up until then it was still a possibility for me.

I think it was just bad luck, bad timing. Obviously Brandon (Williams) has come in and done great. It’s just unlucky me, really.

Now he’s a free agent, he is thankful for his loan spells at Hearts, as well as his senior debut for Manchester United on the final day of the 2016-17 season and being selected for the following pre-season tour of the United States, which proved to the player that he has the quality needed to be successful:

Playing in that game against Palace, going on tour and being on loan, I know that my quality is there.

In terms of confidence, whenever I go into a situation now if I’m not getting in somewhere or I’m not playing my best football, I know that I’ve got the ability in myself that I’m good enough.

Those moments have really made me feel like that even if I’m not playing my best football at the time I know that I’ve got a lot more in the locker, or that I can do things that certain people can’t do.

Manchester United U23 Training Session Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Woods joins Halifax

Ex-Sunderland midfielder Martin Woods has joined non-league outfit FC Halifax Town after a year away from the game.

Woods was released by Dundee at the end of the 2018-19 season but now links up with the Shaymen ahead of the new National League season.

The 34-year-old played 7 times for Sunderland in the Premier League but was released, one year after signing from Leeds United, once the club were relegated to the Championship.

Soccer - Friendly - Hull City v Sunderland - KC Stadium Photo by Adam Davy - PA Images via Getty Images

Former analyst discusses Sunderland role

A former analyst at Sunderland has been speaking about his role at the club with the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald, calling it ‘absolutely fantastic’.

Chris Blake is currently a first team coach at Penrith AFC but was the lead analyst at the Academy of Light before stepping up to become a first team analyst under Sam Allardyce.

Speaking about his role under the former Sunderland and England manager, Blake reveals what it’s like to have to provide criticism to Premier League and international footballers:

That would be everything from how the opposition set up and how they played, to set pieces and danger individuals, through to post-match, the review of the game that was given to management staff, who signed it off, it’s a good challenge.

You’re potentially having to call out or highlight errors from players like Jermain Defoe and John O’Shea; Sebastian Larsson, a Swedish international at the time; Patrick van Aanholt who had been at Chelsea and then he’s broken into the Dutch side; and you’re calling them out.

If a player makes a mistake in a game that leads to an opportunity or a goal for the opposition you can’t hide from it. You’ve got to show it, and they don’t like it.

But on the flip side you try and find as many positives to say that what we’re doing is working because there’s no point beating players down. You learn those kind of things from working with professionals like the coaching staff.

But you also get a real insight into the game because you’re working with Champions League winners — internationals and people like Sam Allardyce, (coaches) Paul Bracewell and Robbie Stockdale who’ve played and managed at the highest level of English football.

I guess it’s one of things, when you look back and think ‘bloody hell what an experience and what a challenge’.

At the time you don’t think about it too much at the time. You just do your job, focus on doing it as well as you can to help the team.

It was great, absolutely fantastic.

FBL-ENG-SUNDERLAND-EVERTON-PR Photo credit should read SCOTT HEPPELL/AFP via Getty Images