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Sunderland AFC v Hull City - Pre-Season Friendly

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Sunderland’s new season is nearly upon us, and it feels so good to be back

We are about to kick off in League One for the fourth season in a row; so why am I looking forward to it so much?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

It is mid-week. Wednesday to be precise. To be more precise, it's the last Wednesday evening before another football season kicks back into action. In a matter of days, all of the summer speculation and thumb-twiddling will stop and the action will be back.

And I for one cannot wait.

The summer was broken up by a hugely enjoyable European Championships, where for four weeks the trials and tribulations of following a stalling third-tier side could take a back seat.

Now that the final at Wembley is a distant memory, we have been able to come back together under the banner of SAFC.

Sunderland AFC v Hull City - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

The summer has been plagued with doubt over the shape of our squad. This is with good reason, and the rebuild has been slow. We are without a doubt a few players short of a full squad, and the lack of full backs, in particular, is worrying going into the new campaign.

Despite the gaps in the dressing room, Lee Johnson is piecing together a raw squad, but one that has the potential to be exciting.

Youth is going to play a big part this season, I think we all know this, and it is going to be a good challenge for several academy products and young players brought in from elsewhere.

Dan Neil is one player who will perhaps get more game time than most of us anticipated. He has impressed whenever given the opportunity, and he has played more minutes than any other player during the preseason. It remains to be seen if he will be a mainstay in the starting eleven, but no matter how much or how little he plays, we have an exciting midfield player ready to call upon.

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

A player who I am very much looking forward to seeing more of is Callum Doyle. A 17-year-old signed on-loan from Manchester City, Doyle has so far shown calmness on the ball that is far beyond his years and composure that we have not seen from one of our centre-halves in a long time. Well, a long time before Dion Sanderson.

The man chosen to go between the sticks seems unpredictable at this point. Will Johnson go with the safe (or not so safe, depending on your view) option of Lee Burge, or will Anthony Patterson be given his chance as the number one? Personally, I would like to see youth prevail over experience, but time will soon tell.

As well as the youth, Johnson has brought in plenty of experience. One of these, Corry Evans, was this week named captain for the upcoming season. With almost 300 career appearances, we can look forward to seeing an experienced head in the middle of the park; we just need to hope his shady record with injuries doesn’t come back to haunt him, or us.

We will soon be back, and the rough and tumble of League One life will be a nearly daily occupation for us all.

Whatever happens, we’ll all be in it together for the inevitable highs and lows of the next nine months.

Here we bloody go...


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