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Roker Roundup: Released midfielder talks about his departure from Sunderland

Ruben Sammut has spoken out about his Sunderland release, whilst Port Vale striker Tom Pope says he played on with a broken arm after Oliver Younger clattered him on Tuesday night.

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

Sammut on Sunderland spell

Former Sunderland midfielder Ruben Sammut has spoken to PlanetFootball about his spell at the Stadium of Light and his difficulties finding a new club during a pandemic.

Speaking about his time at the club, Sammut said he thought he trained well but, despite being involved in the first team squad occasionally, Phil Parkinson was unwilling to use youngsters due to the pressure of making the team a promotion contender:

I thought I trained well, there were times I had opportunities on the bench and travelled away for FA Cup games, a few league games, but the situation the club was in – in terms of not doing so well and being around mid-table – they needed to be up in the promotion area so I think [Parkinson] was kind of backed into playing a more senior team and players with a lot more experience than me, and the chances were just hard to come by then.

It was obviously difficult to accept at the time but you have to agree results weren’t going our way and, although I felt I could maybe make a difference and add a bit of energy to the team, it’s a hard decision for the manager to make.

Obviously my time was cut short there with that lack of first-team appearances and they thought it was best for me to leave the club and find first-team football elsewhere.

But these circumstances with Covid and a lot of teams not being able to trial players, or a lot of teams having their budgets slashed and weren’t sure what players they were retaining or releasing, it proved quite difficult. I had to be very patient this off-season.

Sammut now turns out for Dulwich Hamlet but revealed he had been on trial with League Two Salford City before signing for his current club, a situation that was complicated due to coronavirus protocols:

There was a big group of trialists at the time but we weren’t able to interact with the first team or train with the first team, we had our own training group, all in our own bubble in a hotel up there – I think it’s Gary Neville’s hotel, right up by Old Trafford.

So we trained together, we had a friendly against Man United Under-23s when I was there, and at the end of that week they let you know if you were to come back up, and if you came back up you’d be Covid tested and able to train with the first team. Unfortunately I wasn’t what they were looking for at the time.

And then it was a similar case with a lot of clubs in the Football League – the Covid testing was quite expensive and they weren’t willing to pay for these trialists who in the end they might not be able to sign.

Benfica B v Sunderland: Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Opponent carries on with broken arm

Tom Pope came on with 20 minutes remaining in Port Vale’s 2-0 defeat at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday evening and in that time suffered injury from a challenge against Oliver Younger.

Although placing no blame on Younger, Pope told the Stoke Sentinel that he believed his shoulder had popped out but a scan following the game showed he carried on playing with a broken arm and shoulder ligament damage:

I can’t really remember it. I couldn’t put my hands out to protect myself and I have obviously landed on my arm. I thought I had popped my shoulder but I have had a scan and I have done my shoulder ligaments and broken my arm.

I have to see the specialist on Friday. I don’t know whether I need an operation or it can attach itself. I will know more once I have spoken to the specialist.

We had made all the substitutions. If there was one available I would have come off. But I know it was quite an important game for the club and there was a lot of money on it.

I did it when I did my knee ligaments and my hamstring came off. It always seems every time I am injured we have made all our subs.

I just feel like me being on there gave us more chance. Not that I was going to score or make anything happen because I couldn’t walk, but just by being on the pitch you are a presence and can maybe take a defender out of the way.

Had it been 2-0 or 3-0 by that point there was no point me carrying on, but with it being 1-0 there is always a chance we could nick a goal and it go to penalties so that is why I carried on.

Sunderland v Port Vale - Papa John’s Trophy Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Campbell and MSD updates

Mark Campbell, the businessman who had previously attempted to purchase Sunderland from Stewart Donald, is now in talks to takeover at West Bromwich Albion.

The Daily Mail say that there is a three-way battle for control of West Brom, with Campbell fronting one of the constortiums hoping to take control of the Premier League outfit.

Current WBA owner Lai Guochuan is hoping to name a preferred bidder next week according to the report.

Meanwhile, Derby County may be facing the prospect of administration, despite takeover talks being underway and already receiving one loan from Sunderland-linked MSD.

According to John Percy of the Telegraph, Derby are now seeking another loan from MSD and have yet to pay their players for the month of December.