Sunderland linked with Derry star
Sunderland have been credited with interest in Derry City captain Eoin Toal, according to reports.
The Derry Journal claim both Sunderland and Hearts have shown interest in the Northern Ireland under-21 international in recent weeks.
The 22-year-old centre-back has been a fixture for Derry since the 2017-18 season, standing 6’2”, he is said to be comfortable with the ball at his feet, dominant in the air and strong in the tackle.
New deal for Hugill
Joe Hugill had a successful season with Manchester United since joining from Sunderland last summer, with the young striker impressing for both the club’s under-18 and under-23 sides.
That success will be reward with a new three-year deal according to Laurie Whitwell of The Athletic and the 17-year-old is expected to step up to Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s first team during pre-season.
Joe Hugill set to sign new three-year contract at #MUFC as reward for progress with U23s.— Laurie Whitwell (@lauriewhitwell) June 28, 2021
Young striker, namechecked by Solskjaer last season, will also feature for first-team in pre-season (along with other academy players).
He's not 18 until October.https://t.co/doBvqegLdU
Bent discusses Sunderland career
Darren Bent was involved in a Q&A session with FourFourTwo magazine yesterday and the former Sunderland striker had plenty to say about his time at the Stadium of Light.
Bent was asked why he was so prolific in front of goal for Sunderland and revealed his desire to prove Tottenham Hotspur wrong, as well as everything falling into place led to the best form of his career:
I think it was hunger, motivation and determination. Because of what had gone on at Spurs, I wanted to prove a point. People questioned Sunderland signing me and asked whether I could still do it, but Steve Bruce simply said to me, “Use it as motivation.” That’s what I did. Everything just fell into place and I loved it.
One notable match was against his former team Spurs, with Bent explaining that he was the most fired up he had ever been and should have walked off the pitch with four goals to his name:
I was desperate to do well in that match – it was the probably the most pumped up I’ve ever been in my life. I’d played against them at White Hart Lane and missed a penalty as we lost. Then we played them at home and I scored two goals early on, got a penalty and missed, then got another penalty in the second half and missed that. I could have walked off with four!
Bent also went in-depth on his controversial move to Aston Villa, who were then struggling in the Premier League:
I looked at the squad we had, and even though we were sixth after some big results, we weren’t playing that well. I looked at Villa’s squad and thought, ‘They’re underachieving’. Ashley Young, Stewart Downing, Stiliyan Petrov, Nigel Reo-Coker... I just felt their squad was better. I can understand why people would ask the question because they are correct, I was at the peak of my powers – but it felt right to go to Villa. If Sunderland didn’t want to sell me, they would have said I wasn’t going anywhere, but they wanted to cash in.
Shortly before I signed the contract, Sunderland said, “You need to hand in a transfer request or there’s no deal.” I would never do that, but they told me to get the fans off their back and onto mine. That tarnished my relationship with the fans – it put all of the blame on me. I got destroyed by them and came off social media for a long time.
The former England international had praise for Sunderland academy product and current Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, calling the midfielder the best youngster he ever played with:
Grealish was quite young back then, but still a good player. I think, out of the three, probably Jordan Henderson, just because of his work ethic and how hungry he was to do well. I’ve never seen determination and drive like it. He knew what his limitations were, but he wasn’t going to let that affect him. Look at him: he has turned out to be one of England’s main men, one of the most influential captains in Liverpool’s history, and a really good guy as well. I’ve played with a few youngsters that probably had more ability, like Bale with his left foot, but for the all-round package it was Henderson.
Finally, Bent was asked how he felt to score the goal that relegated Sunderland to League One and said his emotion got the better of him on the day due to the abuse he had received:
I always got pelters whenever I went back there to play. It was such a toxic environment, going there with Burton, and that was difficult to take because my relationship with those fans had been superb. I always used to say that if I went back there and scored, then I wouldn’t celebrate, but the amount of stick I was getting... you just lose control. I was booed in the warm-up and while getting off the coach. It was a crazy and hostile environment. When I scored, the emotion got the better of me, and that’s why I celebrated. I felt sad for them getting relegated, but at the same time I felt, ‘Well, have that... you deserve it’.