On Monday, SAFC held an open training day at the Stadium of Light with a fantastic crowd of nearly 10,000 Mackems turning up to watch the lads train.
It started off with the usual laps of the pitch, then a few pace drills and eventually some shooting and set piece practice.
Some observations of player fitness & performance
In goalkeeper training Jordan Pickford was back and looked sharp so him featuring against Everton looks likely.Mannone looked dodgy and Mika was not much worse than the Italian. Let's just thank God that Washington born Pickford looks near 100% fit.
Jan Kirchhoff trained and looked good too, unfortunately the same couldn't have been said about Tunisian Wahbi Khazri who looked terrible, unfit and lazy. He basically showed why he shouldn't start; shooting was appalling and his efforts in the match at the end were woefully below standard.
In the match there were overall positive performances from Fabio Borini and Lynden Gooch but improvements need to be made from Khazri and Adnan Januzaj in terms of effort. In the final game the green bibs won 2-0 with Borini scoring from the spot and a Jason Denayer diving header, although the green's goalkeeper Pickford made a good stop to deny Defoe.
Some players disappointed afterwards
After the session the lads met with young fans pitchside and signed autographs. However, outside the main entrance some of the players disappointed me a little. Most were great and not only signed autographs but took the time to chat to fans. But players such as Didier Ndong, Darron Gibson, Jason Denayer, Seb Larsson, Papy Djilobodji and Mika ignored fans that were waiting for them outside.
On this day I also had the pleasure of speaking with BBC Newcastle's SAFC commentator Nick Barnes on our recent performances and he agreed that some players don't put effort in and how these players should have more time for the fans. Doesn't take much to sign a few autographs, especially considering the money we spend travelling to watch some awful performances.
Aside from that, it was overall a fantastic day with great support. Well done to everyone who turned up!