SAFC 10 YEARS AGO: Stern on a high, get well soon David

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

TOTAL SUCCESS!

Debutant Stern on a high

STERN JOHN is delighted to be part of Sunderland’s “total football”.

The striker made his Black Cats’ debut against old club Coventry on Saturday.

He couldn’t make it a Trinidad and Tobago hat-trick by joining countrymen Dwight Yorke and Carlos Edwards on the scoresheet, but was delighted to get down to work with a 2-0 victory.

John said: “I would have loved to have scored on my debut, but it was a good win for us and we are closer to the pack.

“I had watched the game against Crystal Palace last Tuesday.

“Palace came and played really defensive. I enjoyed the game.

“The way the lads were passing the ball and keeping possession, I was raring to be part of it. It was total football.

“A lot of teams are going to be scared to play against Sunderland because we’re playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played.

“It is enjoyable. Most of the time Sunderland play into the strikers’ feet. You won’t always be able to do that, but I’m really excited about being in this team.”

The striker was a £250,000 capture from the Sky Blues a week ago but revealed his arrival at the Stadium of Light might have come sooner.

He said: “The move was supposed to happen earlier on in the season when Niall Quinn was in charge of the team, but it didn’t work out them. They finally got me and it’s great to be at a massive club.

“With the facilities and fan base that Sunderland has, I think the club really belongs in the Premiership.

“I think I’m a Premiership player and I would like to play in the Premiership again before the end of my career. Hopefully I can help Sunderland get there.”

GET WELL SOON DAVID

DAVID CONNOLLY will be a big miss as Sunderland look to step up their promotion hunt, says Carlos Edwards.

The striker is recuperating from a serious facial injury suffered in an accidental training ground clash with team-mate Jonny Evans.

Connolly was told to stay away from the Black Cats’ 2-0 victory over Coventry at the weekend to rest while surgeons decide the best way to repair his damaged nose.

There is no news as yet about how long the Republic of Ireland international will be absent, but Edwards – who scored Sunderland’s second goal against Coventry – wished his pal all the best.

He said: “Accidents happen and it was unfortunate for that to happen with David. We’re hoping he makes a speedy recovery and we do miss him because he works so hard for the team and it is a real goal threat for us.

“I do wish him all the best, but at the same time we do have to get on with the games and football goes on. It’s up to other players to contribute the goals that he has.”

Edwards is claiming his second Sunderland goal, despite his strike against Coventry taking a deflection on the way past Sky Blues’ goalkeeper Luke Steele.

The 28-year-old insisted: “I’m claiming it. The shot was on target, but the defender did get a touch that was probably decisive.

“The keeper might have got a hand on it without the deflection, but I still see it as my goal.

“It was a relief to get the second goal because at that time we were a bit under the cosh and getting the second relieved some of the pressure.”

The winger was also left complaining as Sunderland’s penalty jinx continued.

The Wearsiders were not awarded a penalty in all of 2006 and were left frustrated as referee Scott Mathieson waved away a couple of strong appeals against Coventry, including one at the death where it appeared Steele felled Edwards.

“For me it was a definite penalty,” said the former Luton and Wrexham midfielder. “I got to the ball first and there was contact from the keeper.

“The ref is in charge of the game and he said no, but there was contact after I touched the ball. Sometimes things don’t go your way and there is no point in having an inquest and wondering why you didn’t get the decision.

“We should have had one on this occasion.

“Hopefully we will get the chance to take a penalty and the person stepping up will have the confidence to put it into the back of the net.

“I don’t know who will take it, but I wouldn’t mind having a go. I would be confident.”

Sunderland needed their victory after a goalless draw at home to Crystal Palace in midweek. Roy Keane’s men now sit seventh in the Championship, still two points off the play-offs after winning five of their last seven league games and keeping five clean sheets along the way.

Edwards added: “ The least we would have expected from those two home games was four points, but I think we could have had all six.

“We have to take at positives and we have moved up a couple of places in the table so we’re making progress in the right direction. We’re keeping the clean sheets and the strikers and midfielders are contributing goals that will hopefully take us to our target.

“Clean sheets are important to us because we need to improve the goal difference as well as the points.”