International... erm... stuff...
International week, eh? Blergh.
Personally, I can’t stand it. I write this twenty-four hours after not bothering to watch Southgate’s England side, on an evening where they “didn’t click” according to the man himself - seems I didn’t miss out by giving that one a wide berth.
Six of the lads who have been involved in matchday duty so far have been away from the Costa del Roker on international duty, so it becomes a void filled by keeping an eye on whether they come back to us unscathed.
I remember seeing Kenwyne Jones getting crocked for Trinidad and Tobago in the past and Stefan Schwarz back in the day annoyingly returning injured - there are probably more examples, so please reply to this article on the site or the socials if you can remember them - simply so I can churn them out the next time an international break irrationally annoys me.
But, at the time of writing, Trai Hume seems to have come through two full games for Northern Ireland, the first in Slovenia last Thursday and the second was a trip to Kazakhstan yesterday afternoon - both ending in defeat.
Dan Ballard missed the first one through a knock, so it was a slight concern that he played the full ninety minutes yesterday. Let’s hope no risks were taken and he’s all good on return.
With Northern Ireland’s qualification campaign virtually over at the halfway stage, their games will now be saving a bit of pride in the remaining games - maybe the gaffer can persuade the lads to suffer a well timed knock in a couple of them to have some time off at certain points.
Interesting as well to see Jewison Bennette pirouette his way to St. James’ Park for Costa Rica’s victory against a ‘Newcastle United Owner Select XI’ in their first home fixture. By the evidence on the socials, it looked like a celebration of culture outside the stadium ahead of kick-off.
Next up for Bennette and the Costa Ricans is a fixture against Manchester City’s owners' side in Croatia - an interesting week for Costa Rica indeed.
It’s easy to forget Jobe Bellingham isn’t 18 years old until later this week, because he has already settled in to become one of the first names that Mowbray puts down on his team sheets.
I’m sure the club are being careful to manage him so we see the best of him throughout the season - Callum Doyle anyone?! - and after captaining England U19’s in their defeat to Germany last Wednesday, he was on the bench for the Switzerland clash in Spain on Saturday.
I’m sure he enjoys the recognition at all levels - from a purely selfish point of view with my Sunderland hat on - I’d like him back fully fit and ready for the trip to QPR as quickly as possible, thank you.
Having said all of that about international breaks, this one in particular is good timing in my view.
As much as the players would have loved to have kept the momentum up with another game in quick succession following the demolition of Ross Stewart’s Southampton, it has given the opportunity for the new boys to settle themselves into the club on a quiet week - that was sounding like a mix of time off and work on the training ground according to Mowbray last week.
It’s also a chance for the new recruits to see the stunning selection of beer gardens the city has to offer in one of the hottest weeks of the year - let’s just hope they haven’t been hitting the fish lots, sav’ dips and 99’s too hard over the break.
It’s exciting stuff though - coming off the back of a 5-0 with the likes of Timothée Pembélé, Adil Aouchiche, Mason Burstow and Nazariy Rusyn no doubt desperate to get involved, where a few of them were in attendance to see their new teammates run riot.
Once again, names that I had never heard of before our scouting team did their thing, but based on our recruitment of the last couple of years, I can’t wait to see these lads in action. Let’s not forget that it’s given a chance for Patrick Roberts, Aji Alese and Eliezer Mayenda to get two weeks closer to fitness.
If you can’t tell, I’m excited for our next game - and looking at our options we have compared to the early part of the season, especially in those forward positions, it will be interesting to see how Mowbray balances staying loyal to some of the lads who have helped put points on the board in recent weeks over providing minutes to the new signings.
Bring on Saturday.
Roker Report have done a thing...!
You have hopefully noticed that Roker Report are releasing our first book - SAFC: 365 - with all profits going to the Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen.
Thanks to A Love Supreme who have sorted all of the publishing, it’s now available for pre-sale ahead of shipping the first lot in October. You can find links to order the book at the top and bottom of this article - and every other one we put out over the foreseeable future.
We think it’s an absolute bargain at just £10 and the option is there at the ordering stage to donate more while you reserve your copy if you are able. Many thanks to those of you who already have and thanks in advance to those who will do so.