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Roker Roundup: Released ex-Sunderland keeper finds new club & Luca Stephenson gets pro deal

In today’s news: a keeper Sunderland released this summer has found a new team; our former feeder side in Africa have moved on to another English club; and Luca Stephenson has signed a pro deal with Liverpool.

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Roker Roundup 23-24
Your daily reminder of Sunderland news!

Stryjek on McLaughlin and Ruiter

Two former Sunderland goalkeepers could be going head-to-head in European football tomorrow, as Rangers take on Dutch side Willem II.

Jon McLaughlin and Robbin Ruiter may face each other in that match and, ahead of the game, another former Sunderland goalkeeper in Max Stryjek has been discussing what it was like working with the pair.

Stryjek, who is currently on the books of Livingston in the Scottish Championship, told the Scottish Sun that the three are still in contract and said that he learned a lot from his more experienced former colleagues:

Jon and Robbin are great goalkeepers and I have stayed in touch with them. We worked together at Sunderland and always supported each other.

People talk about the Goalkeepers Union and I do think it’s a position where you help each other. In my career so far, I have never met another goalkeeper who isn’t friendly towards me.

I learned a lot working with Jon and Robbin. The atmosphere was always good between us.

In 2018/19, Jon was the No1 goalkeeper and Max was No2. I don’t actually know what I was! No, I am joking. I was behind them and it was a good time for me to be training with two very good goalkeepers.

If I could use one word to describe Jon and Robbin it would be solid. They are both very reliable.

You will always get a good level of performance from them and you can see the experience from their career stats.

They are both 33 now and have played hundreds of games each in their career.

As a younger goalkeeper, I picked up a lot of tips from them in training and from watching games.

We spoke about goalkeeping and we spoke about life. They were really positive with me. It was always about pushing each other. They are talented and both good characters. We are in contact sometimes. I sent Robbin a text when he moved to Willem II, wishing him all the best.

I saw Jon when Rangers played at Livingston and it was good to catch up with him. It will be interesting to see them play against each other in such a big Europa League qualifier.

Rangers are a good team and have done well in Europe recently, so they will maybe be too strong.

But I do think it will be a close game — 2-1 or 1-0 to Rangers would probably be my prediction.

Goalkeeper finds new club

Sunderland released Algerian goalkeeper Ahmed Abdelkader in the summer, just one year after signing the 21-year-old on a free transfer.

Abdelkader spent the last year with the Sunderland development squad but after becoming a free agent he has now signed for Algerian outfit CR Belouizdad according to a report by

The player has initially been signed by the Algerian champions as their third choice goalkeeper but will spend time with the club’s reserves while he waits for a chance in the first team.

The report says The Red and Whites went to great lengths to not only sign Abdelkader but to keep his signing a secret whilst he undergoes a period of confinement.

Asante Kotoko to link up with another PL club

Sunderland announced a partnership with leading Ghanaian club Asante Kotoko back in 2011, as they looked to expand their horizons as a Premier League club.

As with most Sunderland attempts to look to the future, the move came to nothing and now the Porcupine Warriors are set to link up with another, as yet unnamed, Premier League club.

Joy Online say that the the move was announced by CEO Nana Yaw Amponsah at an unveiling of the the club’s new management team, where he revealed the deal is 90% complete:

We are 90 per cent through signing a partnership deal with an English Premiership side. We want to plug our club in them so we can have the replica, if not the same, of everything they have here.

Sunderland’s Head of International Football Development Graham Robinson is in Ghana as part of the Black Cats partnership with Asante Kotoko.

First professional deal for academy product

Luca Stephenson was one of the first academy products to depart Sunderland under the ownership of Stewart Donald, as the then under-15 midfielder joined current Premier League champions Liverpool in 2018.

After a successful couple of years in Liverpool’s academy, Stephenson is now established in Liverpool’s under-18 squad and the club’s official website have confirmed that he has now been rewarded with his first professional contract.

Liverpool v Stoke City: U18 Premier League Photo by Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

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