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Dundee United v Sunderland - Pre Season Friendly

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Roker Roundtable: Some final words of encouragement ahead of Sunderland’s opening game!

If you had the chance to deliver the pre-match team talk as we begin our Championship on Sunday, what would you say? We asked our panel for their thoughts...

Photo by Paul Devlin/SNS Group via Getty Images
Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

Mitch Marshall says…

For the first time in years, Sunderland’s squad has little to lose and everything to prove - unlike our years in League One where it was expected that we’d coast the league.

Our years in that division have rid us of our Premier League pretensions.

We’ve got a young, hungry squad, with the likes of Anthony Patterson and Dan Neil looking to show their class in a higher league than they’ve ever played in previously. For others, there are scores to settle, as Patrick Roberts, Alex Pritchard, and Jack Clarke all have the opportunity to show how undervalued they have been at this higher level.

Coventry will provide a tough test at the start of a long season, but I have every confidence that this talented and hungry group of players will prove the doubters wrong. So, Sunderland, be fearless - we’re right behind you.

Go get ‘em, lads!

Sunderland v Doncaster Rovers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Phil West says…

Back in May, you were the men that finally ended this club’s four year Championship exile, and now you’ve got the chance to start to prove that you belong at this level. Some people might doubt you, and others don’t think you’ve got what it takes, but this is your opportunity to prove them wrong, and to prove to the world that Sunderland AFC is back.

When you walk down that tunnel and onto the pitch, savour every second of it. Every single home supporter would swap places with you in a heartbeat, and like so many great players before you, you’re representing this city and its people. Do it with pride, do it with passion, and do it to the best of your ability. Use the noise and the passion to your advantage; rise to the challenge and don’t take a backward step.

There will be times this season when we have to endure tough times and ride out some storms, but if we stick together during every game and continue to aim high, we can make it a successful campaign.

I’ve got full faith in each and every one of you, and after four years, you are the men who are bringing Championship football back to Wearside. It’s time to deliver.

Sunderland v Shrewsbury Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says…

We need to carry on where we left off as we finished last season, and using that as a platform is key to our return to the second tier.

It has to be said that we would have loved to have a few additions to compliment that group who did us so proud in May, and I am confident that they will arrive during the five weeks till the end of August.

If the attitude, application, confidence and team spirit shown during the playoffs sequence (and the games before that, in which we played so well), can continue, we have to believe that we can get something from the game.

I want to see a settled and confident Patrick Roberts, some flair and attacking intent from Jack Clarke, and proof that Ross Stewart isn’t just a terror in League One. I’d also like to see Dan Ballard form a great partnership with whoever he is paired with, and to demonstrate the quality and class that he showed during pre-season.

I can’t wait to see Alex Pritchard and Corry Evans run the show in the middle, at a level that they are far more accustomed to, and Dan Neil is the same- this is his chance.

If they give it their all, that is all we can ask for. More than anything else, go out there and be proud of what you did a couple of months ago, to make this possible, and give us something to build on, whatever the outcome.

You earned this, lads. Now enjoy it and thrive in it.

Sunderland v Wycombe Wanderers - Sky Bet League One - Play Off - Final - Wembley Stadium Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images

Jon Guy says…

Pre-season is over, the ground is near full, and the fans are continuing the momentum from Wembley. They’ll be an extra man if you give them the opportunity, and you do that by putting in a shift. It will be a long season but let’s provide a real statement of intent with a performance and a victory that will have the stadium and the city buzzing.

Sunderland v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

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