With Wednesday signalling the end of the International week, Sunderland’s stars return to Wearside to turn their attention to the must-win clash with West Brom. Four first-teamers have been in action since the draw with Newcastle, here’s how they got on, and how it could impact on Saturday and beyond.
DeAndre Yedlin’s USA side suffered a blow to their hopes of progressing to the next round of the World Cup qualifiers when they lost 2-0 to Guatemala on Friday night, before avenging the defeat with a thumping 4-0 win over the same opponents in the early hours of this morning. Even Jozy Altidore scored!
Yedlin, who has started Sunderland’s last five games, started both games and now faces the unenviable trip back across the Atlantic to Wearside. With only three days before the visit of West Brom, Allardyce will rightly be concerned about the Spurs loanee, with Billy Jones on standby for a recall.
With Patrick van Aanholt making his second and third appearance for Holland this week, both from the bench late on, Billy Jones and Emanuel Eboue proved the only professional fullbacks at Allardyce’s disposal this past week, with concerns remaining about the latter’s fitness.
Jones was a weak link in Sunderland’s already struggling defence before his injury saw DeAndre Yedlin come back into the side. Yet Allardyce’s impact on van Aanholt since replacing Dick Advocaat has seen a remarkable upturn in the left back’s fortunes, even if there is still a lot of work to be done. A similar improvement from Jones is desperately needed should he decide to rest Yedlin.
John O’Shea, meanwhile, was left out of the Republic of Ireland’s 1-0 win over Switzerland on Friday night. He did play the first half of the 2-2 draw with Slovakia last night, however, captaining Martin O’Neill’s side as Paul McShane’s own goal proved costly. The run out will be a boost for O’Shea, who hasn’t started since the draw with Crystal Palace at the start of the month, especially with Younes Kaboul forced off against Newcastle last time out.
The biggest news of the break, however, concerns Newcastle. For the second time this season, they’ve lost a goalkeeper on international duty, with Rob Elliot suffering a knee injury as he conceded the opener last night. Elliot, whose save from van Aanholt in the derby is arguably the turning point, will now miss Newcastle’s run in, forcing Karl Darlow into the side.
The 25 year old endured a nightmare Premier League debut when his mistake against West Brom cost Newcastle, but the third-choice ‘keeper will now be in between the sticks for the rest of the season. Any further blow to Newcastle’s defence is surely great news for Sunderland’s survival hopes.
Seb Larsson continued his comeback, featuring as a half time substitute in Sweden’s 2-1 defeat to Turkey and 1-1 draw with Czech Republic. Although left out of the squad for the derby, Larsson will be hoping for a recall to boost Sunderland’s midfield and challenge Jack Rodwell for a starting spot.
There were also run outs for two of Sunderland’s young guns. Rees Greenwood made his England under-20 debut against Canada in a 4-1 win. Greenwood claimed an assist in that game, but couldn’t prevent his side falling to a 2-1 defeat in the rematch days later.
Jordan Pickford was also in action for his country, starting as England under-21s drew 1-1 with Switzerland. With Jack Butland’s fractured ankle ruling the Stoke ‘keeper out of the Euros in France this summer, it’s worth a thought as to whether Pickford could have forced his way into the side, ahead of Tom Heaton and Ben Foster, had he continued to impress on loan at Preston in the second half of the season.