Matt Dench is confident of step up

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SUNDERLAND captain Matt Dench hopes that his side can maintain their momentum after promotion from the North East League to the North League Division Two, writes DANNY HOLLAND.

The Ashbrooke club’s first team lost only once all season to finish top of the North East First Division, and with training set to resume this month, Dench, pictured, is confident they can make the step up.

“Obviously, it’s a bit of a step up as we’re not just playing the teams from the North East any more, we have to travel farther to places like Leeds and Huddersfield, which will be difficult places to go,” admitted Dench.

“A few of us played in this league three or four years ago, so we know what we can expect.

“I’m confident that if we can keep the same side as last year we can keep up our form.”

Sunderland’s preparations have been hit already, though, with key centre-back Alec Jackson will not be returning for the new season, as he heads off to university, but Dench has faith that the club’s young players will be able to fill the gap, after the second team also gained promotion last year.

Dench added: “He will be a miss for us, but we have some very good young players to come through.

“The seconds were promoted as well last year, so there are players from there who will come into the firsts and should do well.”