SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Simpson set for debut, John targets promotion

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

TAKE ME TO THE PALACE!

NEW BOY Danny Simpson says he is hoping for an immediate debut this evening when Sunderland take on Crystal Palace at the Stadium of Light.

The right-back says he is fit enough to go straight into the side and would relish an early outing in the red and white stripes.

But he accepts that skipper Dean Whitehead might get the nod ahead of him.

He said: “I’m really looking forward to tonight’s game and I would love to be involved, but we will just have to wait and see.

“I know that one of the reasons I have come in is to let Dean get back into central midfield. But I also know that the manager might want to keep him there for a game or two while I settle in.

“I’ve played against Dean in training, so I know what a good footballer he is and it wouldn’t surprise me if he stayed at right-back tonight.

“But I definitely feel fit enough to play in the game and am ready to be selected.”

Salford-born Simpson says he jumped at the chance to come to Sunderland last week on a season-long loan and is hoping he can now contribute to a successful push for promotion.”

He said: “I spoke to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United about maybe going out on loan because I didn’t really want to play in the reserves for the rest of the season after coming back from a loan spell at Royal Antwerp.

“A couple of days later he said that Roy Keane had been on and how would I fancy going to Sunderland?

“I didn’t need asking a second time. I’d already spoken to Jonny Evans about Sunderland and now it was going for him up here.

“And he only had good things to say about Sunderland, the team and the fans.

“I roomed with Jonny for five months at Antwerp and he is a great mate so I knew that as well as getting the chance to play first team football I’s also have someone there who I knew well and who could help me settle in.

“I’ve only been here a few days, but it has been everything I hoped it would be and now it’s just a question of getting into the side.”

“I know it won’t be easy for me because I’ve already seen that there are good players here but hopefully I can bring something to the squad. I like to get stuck in but I also like to pass the ball and get forward on the overlap and try to put some balls into the box.

“This is an exciting opportunity for me and I intend to make the most of it. I always give 110 per cent in a game and I’ll be doing that against Crystal Palace tonight if I’m asked to play. But if I have to be patient and wait for my chance, then I am happy to do that too.”

JOHN SETS HIS SIGHTS ON PROMOTION BOOST

STERN JOHN says he hopes to be playing Premiership football for the Black Cats this time next season.

The striker, who moved from Coventry City to Sunderland yesterday, could be pitched into action for his new club as early as tonight’s game against Crystal Palace.

And he says he can’t wait to get started on a campaign which he is convinced has every chance of ending with a successful return to top flight football.

He said: “I’m very excited about the move because Sunderland are a big club on the up and I think have an excellent chance of promotion.

“The move came out of nowhere but when I was told that Roy Keane was interested in me and that I could leave, then I was very happy to agree terms. Apart from the fact that Roy Keane manages them, it is a big club and a Premiership club – you only have to look at the facilities and the stadium itself to realise that.

“It does not have Premiership football at the moment but I think that there is an excellent chance that it will do next season and I want to be part of that. I believe I am good enough to play in the Premiership and I want to play there with Sunderland next season.”

The Trinidad and Tobago international has had an inconsistent time at Coventry, scoring goals in impressive bursts at times but earning the displeasure of manager and fans at others. But there is no doubt about his touch and his vision and he is looking forward to relaunching his career on Wearside.

He said: “Sometimes you need a new start in football. That’s what I was looking for and what I have found with Sunderland and I’m desperate to be part of what’s going on here.

“Kevin Kyle at Coventry told me what a fantastic club it is, how big the crowds are and how great a place it is to be when things are going well. Hopefully things will continue to go as well as they have done recently for Sunderland and I will be able to do my bit to help the club back into the Premiership.

“It is an exciting time for me and an exciting time for Sunderland.”

Crystal Palace boss Peter Taylor is likely to make changes for tonight’s game after crashing out of the FA Cup with a 2-0 home defeat to Preston at the weekend.

New signing Dave Martin, who joined from Ryman League outfit Dartford last week, is available to make his debut but is unlikely to start. He was cup-tied on Saturday, as were winger Tommy Black and goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly, who is being linked with a move to struggling Leeds.

Danny Granville (hamstring) and Gary Borrowdale (hernia) did not feature against Preston despite having recovered from their respective injuries and are likely to be involved tonight.

Former Millwall winger Paul Ifill played over 30 minutes against North End and will hope to start, having made three substitute appearances since joining from Sheffield United.