Ball confident in Sunderland caretaker role

Kevin Ball last night
Kevin Ball last night
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KEVIN BALL hopes his previous experience as Sunderland caretaker manager will help him during a second temporary stint in charge of the Black Cats.

Ball oversaw 10 games in the dug-out at the end of the disastrous 2005-06 campaign when Sunderland’s relegation from the Premier League was all but assured before his arrival.

But the former Sunderland skipper now finds himself asked to lead the first-team at a far earlier stage in proceedings after succeeding the sacked Paolo Di Canio just five league games into the campaign.

Under-21s’ coach Ball insists he is happy to take charge though after enjoying a day on the training field with Sunderland’s first-team yesterday in preparation for tonight’s Capital One Cup third round tie with Peterborough.

“The situation last time was slightly different, but it did give me some experience, whether this be for one or 10 games,” said Ball.

“I did enjoy it last time and I hope I feel the same way about this one as well.

“I’m quite comfortable with it.

“We spoke about the importance of the game after training yesterday, but before training it never got mentioned, because obviously their heads were spinning a little bit.

“I just wanted to watch them in training and see who was focused and who wasn’t.”

Sunderland face League One opposition at home for the second successive round of the cup tonight, although Peterborough are expected to pose a sterner test than MK Dons, who found themselves 2-0 up against the Black Cats before a late rally from Di Canio’s side.

Peterborough, lying second in the table, have lost just once all season and thumped Championship Reading 6-0 in the second round.

Ball added: “Peterborough have started the season very well so it will be a good test for us.

“The nice thing is we’re at home and it’s up to us to make sure we get the crowd behind us and make sure we make things happen.

“We had 22 players training yesterday and I’ll sit down with Robbie (Stockdale, Sunderland coach) whose going to help me to pick the team that we think is right.

“You want them to go out and enjoy the game, but to enjoy the game, you have to work really hard.

“I’d expect them to demand 100 per cent from each other and we need to do that first, to make sure the result has a chance to take care of itself.”