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Roker Roundup: Sunderland reject chance to sign trialist & Kimpioka loan move is explained

Benji Kimpioka was almost an instant hero on his debut for Torquay, and his new manager – Lee’s dad – seems happy to have him at Plainmoor. Elsewhere, a trialist hasn’t been offered a deal, and has instead tried his luck with Stoke.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

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Gary Johnson explains Kimpioka deal

Benji Kimpioka signed on-loan for Torquay United last week and almost became a hero on his debut but for his last minute shot to be cleared off the line by his own team-mate, condemning Gary Johnson’s side to a 1-0 home defeat by Dagenham & Redbridge.

Johnson, the father of Sunderland boss Lee, told Devon Live that he believes signing the Swedish under-21 international on a temporary basis is a coup for his club and said the deal was arranged between the two clubs, rather than between father and son:

He is a good player and it is a good coup for us to get someone in like him.

He is young and he is enthusiastic and he wants to impress both of his managers – me and Lee – and he knows I am going to be honest with him, and he knows that somebody like me is going to be watching as if Lee was watching him.

The club deals with the club – it’s not me and Lee having a father-son conversation – and everybody was happy.

It is the opportunity for him to get some games after the end of what was a very long injury, which is now cleared up.

Sunderland Training : Papa John’s Trophy Preview Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Academy youngster on difficulty finding new club

Sunderland released a number of under-18 players last year, around the time the first lockdown was implemented, and one of those players has been speaking to PA Sport about how difficult it has been finding a new club during the Covid pandemic.

Liam Miller, who is a Scottish youth international but a free agent after leaving the Academy of Light, said it has been difficult just to get trials, never mind the extra difficulty of earning a deal after long lay offs and during financially uncertain times:

After the first lockdown, even if you managed to get a trial, it was difficult when you had been off for three or four months.

I was in at Forest and Brentford but they were looking for someone older, someone who can break into the first team right away.

The player’s agent, Dave Gordon (CEO of Deluxe Sports Group), is concerned that hundreds of youngsters that were released during the pandemic will be forgotten about and went into detail explaining the difficulties of finding young players new clubs:

A lot of these lads were getting released because of Covid.

What was really frustrating was that some clubs were saying, ordinarily we wouldn’t need to look at him, we would offer him a contract, but we haven’t got the money to invest, we don’t know if we can sign new players.

Clubs at the lower end of the pyramid were furloughing players. A lot of scouts and heads of recruitment have been furloughed.

We can’t even set up trials for a lot of these lads because of Covid rules. Hotels are closed too.

Clubs have had to do what they have had to do. It’s been a really testing time for everybody, but we seem to be through the worst of it and hopefully these lads are ready to go now. The testing we have done with them shows that but even now trying to get players on trial is tricky.

Some of the lads went out to play men’s football, that could have been Northern League, National League North and South, and their seasons were curtailed.

We had a goalkeeper who left Middlesbrough and has been training with York this season and he has been called in by a Championship club. So hopefully we are seeing this cycle come to an end, with Covid tests helping.

Some lads will have got lucky but some lads will have slipped through the net.

I hope that the lads who were out of contract last summer and have been grafting don’t get forgotten about, that we make sure we work hard for them. I would say there are hundreds of them.

Liverpool U18 v Sunderland U18 - U18 Premier League Photo by Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Stoke trial for Newall

Guiseley AFC defender Nathan Newall recently joined Sunderland on trial in the hopes of earning a developmental deal ahead of next season but has now linked up with Stoke.

Newall started for the under-23s in Premier League 2 fixtures against both Wolverhampton Wanderers (0-0) and Crystal Palace (2-1) during March.

But the full back has now joined Championship outfit Stoke City on trial according to the Wharfedale Observer.


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