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Roker Roundup: Report claims Sunderland are one of many clubs to miss out on Nigerian defender

In today’s news: Andy Reid on his Sunderland spell; report claims we’ve missed out on an 18 year old Nigerian defender; and a former U23s striker has spoken out on what has been a difficult spell in his career.

Roker Roundup 20/21
Your daily reminder of Sunderland news!

Reid on his Sunderland spell

Andy Reid was the latest guest on the Open Goal podcast with Si Ferry, as the Irish winger sat down to discuss his career.

While talking about his career so far, Reid brought up his 2008 move to Sunderland from Charlton Athletic and how he decided to play hard ball in contract negotiations, as he was currently quite happy at the London club.

Reid said that the negotiations were getting quite difficult when Roy Keane took the winger to his office and, after a quick talk, ordered the club’s chief executive to give Reid whatever he wanted:

I went up there to speak to them and I was there all day.

I was in a fortunate enough position in that I wasn’t desperate to get out of Charlton. I was going back to a team that were third in the Championship, they had a real good chance of getting promoted, a manager that I liked playing under. I was settled enough down in London, I kind of liked it.

So I went up and I kind of played hardball a little bit with what I was looking for and what I was asking because I wasn’t desperate to go up there and it started to get difficult to get the deal done.

Roy came in and said ‘is the deal done?’ and the chief executive at the time said ‘no, we’re still a little bit way off and he’s wanting this...’.

So Roy calls me into his office and sat me down. I had a little injury at the time, a little medial ligament injury but I was due to start back training, he says ‘where are you at with the injury, where do you see yourself playing, what do you think you can bring to the team?.

I told him what I thought and he thought me what he thought, we walked back into the room where the chief executive was sitting and he says ‘listen, get the deal done, give him what he wants’.

Roy walked out and we got it done.

Reid also believes Keane likely regrets his decision to change the balance of the squad, believing the squad was ‘too nice’.

He explains that the players brought in, including the likes of El Hadji Diouf, ruined the balance of the squad and caused many arguments:

Roy said to us ‘you’re too nice, so I’m bringing in some people who aren’t so nice’. That’s what he wanted to do.

I don’t know if anyone has ever asked him about it, but I’d imagine he regrets bringing them in because there was a real imbalance in the squad.

It started to get out of hand with arguments and fights in training all the time, Roy ended up leaving. El Hadji Diouf was fighting with everybody, he pulled out a knife on Anton Ferdinand.

That happened, that’s not me telling you anything that’s not already out there. That was public knowledge.

We stayed up that season after Ricky Sbragia and Dwight Yorke took over. We stayed up by default really, we maybe won one game in the last ten or something like that. We stayed up because Newcastle were worse and then Duffer scored an OG on the last day of the season against Villa.

We lost our last game at home to Chelsea, 2-1, and we just had to match or better Newcastle’s result. We did and we stayed up, but by total default really. We were struggling, there was people pulling in all different directions.

You can watch the full Open Goal podcast with Andy Reid by clicking play on the video below:

Sunderland v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Sunderland miss out on ‘target’

Sunderland have reportedly missed out on young defender Malik Owolabi-Belewu, with the 18-year-old set to sign for Italian side SPAL.

The left-footed centre back was said to be interesting Sunderland, as well as Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Nice, Roma and Hertha Berlin but SPAL have won the race for his signature according to AllNigerianSoccer.

Owolabi-Belewu was born in the UK but was on the books of Toronto FC Academy and will sign a deal until 2024 with SPAL after a successful trial spell with the Serie B outfit.

Sunderland Unveil New Manager - Martin O’Neill Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Former striker discusses difficult spell

Former Sunderland youngster Connor Shields is now at Queen of the South in the Scottish Championship after leaving Aldershot, and the 23-year-old admitted to the Daily Record that finding a new club in the midst of a pandemic had been difficult.

Shields had been set on loan to Billericay Town when the lockdown hit and after being out on loan at Alloa Athletic during his Sunderland spell, the forward is hoping to finally have a full season of full-time football after a stop-start few years:

Last year wasn’t ideal. I wasn’t really playing at all and then the lockdown happened, then when the loan was over with the season being called off I decided to come home.

Going to Sunderland initially after leaving Rovers was obviously a massive jump.

I had never played full-time and had only really made my breakthrough into the first team that season. I enjoyed every minute of it, even though I didn’t really get a chance.

I got put out to Alloa during it as well, so I’ve still not played a full season at full-time level.

Last season I was at Aldershot and then go out on loan just before the season was been called off. That has kind of been a nightmare. It’s been stop-start at full-time for me.

I played at the start at Aldershot, and at Sunderland I learned loads as well, but I want that full season at full-time and to play every week.

The player’s new manager will be ex-Sunderland winger Allan Johnston, and he says that he was set on playing for Queen of the South as soon as he spoke to the former Scottish international:

I was home for so many months after the end of the season and I wanted to stay up here again.

I spoke to Allan and where he wanted me to play, what part he saw me playing in the squad. It suited me right now.

I was set on Queen of the South after speaking to him.

I’ve not actually played full-time back home yet so I wanted to give it a go.

I want to get back to the same form I have shown before at Rovers. It will be different and I won’t be playing up front, but I’ve played in the Championship before and I kind of know what the league is about now.

Hopefully I’ll hit the ground running in the Betfred Cup. That’s where it all started at Rovers. That could be the starting point again.

Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images