Adam Matthews on staying for Sunderland's fresh start, international hopes and Carlisle United win
The Checkatrade Trophy has seen Jack Ross twice take the opportunity to watch the second half from an elevated position.
That meant he had pretty much the best seat in the house for a moment of breathtaking quality in the 3-1 win over Carlisle United.
A superb pass from the outside of Adam Matthews’ boot, presenting a chance that George Honeyman simply couldn’t miss.
Sunderland’s summer overhaul was extensive but alongside Aiden McGeady, Matthews is a player who perhaps surprisingly stayed put.
Having overcome some injury hurdles, he is beginning to impress under a manager who gives his full-backs licence to get forward and attack.
Starting to string together regular games, the 26-year-old is enjoying being part of a winning team again.
“I was happy to stay,” he said.
“We came back in pre-season and it was a fresh start for everyone.
“The club got taken over and there was a new manager, so it did feel like a new club and a fresh start for everyone. It’s been brilliant so far and hopefully we can keep it going.
“It’s nice to win games. At any level you play at, a footballer wants to win games,” he added.
“We haven’t had that feeling for a long time so hopefully this season we can get that feeling, win promotion and take it into the next season and kick on again. That’s our goal and what everyone in the changing room wants to do.
“Last season the fans were brilliant. It was tough for us on the pitch, but really tough for them off it.
“You can see with the attendances we’ve had this season that they’re behind the team. They’ve always been brilliant and want their team to do well, which we haven’t done until this season. I think it is time we repay them now, and hopefully we can get promotion.”
Ross will hope that Matthews is a player who will benefit from getting another 90 minutes under his belt on Tuesday night.
It was a performance that showed further signs of a team starting to gel and Matthews believes it showcased a dressing room with a good balance of youth and experience.
“I think the boys did well,” he said. “It gave an opportunity to those who haven’t played much and they came in and showed what they can do. It was a good atmosphere, obviously a small crowd and for games like these you don’t expect a big crowd, but the fans were brilliant as they always are.
“It was nice to get the win and the performance was alright as well.
“We’ve got a lot of good youngsters coming through,” he added.
“Obviously we signed Glenn, which I think is a big one for us in the changing room on and off the pitch. Jack [Diamond] and Benji did well when they came on, and even Lee [Connelly] should have scored.
“He did well. We have a young team, with a couple of experienced players which every young player needs, so I think we have a good bond in the changing room.”
Matthews will be one of the Sunderland players to benefit from some time off later this week, but he hopes to be back on the international scene sooner rather than later.
Competition is stiff in the full-back department, with Swansea City duo Connor Roberts and Joe Rodon breaking onto the scene.
Matthews is on standby as Ryan Giggs’ side take on Spain and the Republic of Ireland. MAtthews will hope that regular football in a successful team can make the difference, as it already has done for team-mates Jon McLaughlin and Tom Flanagan.
“It’s an honour to represent your country and I’ve done it a couple of times now and want to do it again. That will take care of itself. “If I’m playing well for Sunderland then hopefully I’ll get a call-up, but if not I’ll still be there supporting.”