SAFC 10 YEARS AGO: Roy Keane will give late players second chance

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Here’s what the Echo was reporting 10 years ago today.

THE FORGIVEN!

Keane gives late players another chance

MANAGER ROY KEANE today emphasised that there will be no long term repercussions for the careers of the three players who missed Sunderland’s team bus on Friday.

And the Black Cats boss has underlined the fact that the guilty men – Anthony Stokes, Toby Hyson and Marton Fulop – will all be considered for tomorrow night’s game against Stoke City.

He said: “I’ve spoken to them this morning, it has been dealt with and we move on.

“I’m not here to crucify footballers.

“They made a mistake, like we all make mistakes, and they had to be punished for that.

“But that’s been done now and they will all come into contention for the Stoke game.

“We need as many players as we can get and they can be important for us. I’m sure they’ll have the right attitude, if selected.”

The two outfield players in particular, had every chance of being involved in Saturday’s game against Barnsley. But they will now have to accept the possibility of others being further up the pecking order. The three, who are likely to be fined, also had the anguish of publicly missing the game.

Keane said: “They’ve been punished of course because they weren’t able to be involved in a match I’m sure they would have loved to have been part of. It was a blow to lose them, especially with Carlos Edwards being out with injury. But Grant Leadbitter came in and did a great job on the right wing, capping that off with a vital goal for us.

“It was not an easy game to win and it might have been a game that some people were expecting us to slip up in. But the players worked ever so hard and a lot of them did their chances no harm at all with that performance.”

Keane will wait until tomorrow before finalising his team selection. But there’s a chance that Dwight Yorke will be available again after a hamstring strain.

Keane said: “Dwight did some running over the weekend and there’s a chance that he might train with us today. It will be great for us if he is available because he’s a quality player but we are quite well served in midfield at the moment and it’s good to know that we don’t have to use him if we don’t need to.

“There’s no point in risking injury to a player. There is a chance that he’ll be available for selection but unless he’s 100 per cent, he won’t be involved.

LEADBITTER: GREAT FANS INSPIRED MY GOAL

GRANT LEADBITTER says Sunderland’s travelling army of fans inspired his crucial opening goal at Barnsley.

The midfielder, popped up with the all-important opener at Oakwell to send the Black Cats to a 2-0 victory on Saturday.

More than 7,700 Sunderland fans had made the journey, with Leadbitter and fellow scorer Dave Connolly making the trip a joyous day out with a home game against Stoke City to follow tomorrow.

Leadbitter said: “I’m loving every minute of it and I just hope we can keep the run going tomorrow. The gaffer’s asked me to get in scoring positions and pick up some goals. I think I can do that quite well.

“If I get a chance, I’ll shoot. Sometimes the lads have a go at me in training for shooting too much, but if you don’t shoot you don’t score. Playing in front of those fans was an incredible experience. It was the best away support I have ever seen.

“When I came out before the game I had a look round at our crowd and it gave me an even bigger lift. I think the fans did us proud again.

“I had a few friends there and that was nice, but I usually have people I know in the crowd supporting the whole team, not just me.”

Leadbitter broke the deadlock in the 66th minute, firing past Tykes keeper Nick Colgan from the edge of the box just as the home side were growing in confidence.

The Fence Houses star said: “The first goal was always going to be important, especially with the time getting on.

“We had all of the possession in the first half, but it didn’t quite happen for us. We just couldn’t get a clean chance.

“We knew that Barnsley would sit back a bit and look to soak up the pressure, so we’re really pleased to get the three points .

“I saw a gap in the corner and I just got my head down and tried to strike it well. I don’t know if the keeper could have done better, but it was a great feeling to see it go in.

“I think that kicked us on when Barnsley were getting a bit of confidence that they could get something from the game.”

There was no hint that Sunderland would let us after the boost of claiming seven points from a possible nine after facing promotion rivals Birmingham, Derby and West Brom in their previous three games.

“We’d had three good results against good teams and a lot of people were wondering if we would slip up,” said Leadbitter. “But we know Barnsley are a good side and we knew it wouldn’t be easy.

“They made it hard for us, but, thankfully, we got the breakthrough and Dave settled it with a brilliant finish. It killed Barnsley off and got us the three points.”

Victory took Sunderland up to third place – their highest position of the season. West Brom’s 1-0 loss at Wolves yesterday sees them three points behind the Black Cats.

HOUGHTON JOY

SUNDERLAND Ladies star Steph Houghton made her first start for England in yesterday’s 1-0 win against Scotland at Adams Park.

Right-back Houghton, from Hetton, played the full 90 minutes, while Black Cats team-mate, keeper Carly Telford won her first cap after coming on as a half-time substitute.

The game was decided by a 35-yard shot from Fara Williams.