Chris Coleman issues message to Sunderland squad plus how Barcelona and Brazil star Ronaldinho inspired Joel Asoro
Chris Coleman has told his Sunderland players to build on the 1-0 win over Hull City when they travel to Birmingham City on Tuesday.
The Black Cats had a free weekend after being dumped out of the FA Cup, with their trip to the Midlands rearranged for Tuesday night.
Ahead of the game, Coleman said: "It was good to get that home win but we have to build on it.
"We’ve had the chance to it before and we’ve not taken it, so it’s imperative that on the back of three points at the Stadium of Light, we build on it - it doesn’t matter who we’re playing against.
"It’s all about us and we need to show that confidence, belief and determination we did in the last game.
"We’re not going to win every game and we’ve had one or two performances where we’ve been below par, but there’s been a lot of good signs and, as I said on the weekend, that’s five clean sheets from 11 games which is a good return.
"I’ve seen improvements since my arrival and training has been tough, but it has to be.
"You train hard and play easy as they say, and although the games are never easy the harder you train the more prepared you are, but I’ve definitely seen improvements.
"Work hard, train hard, follow the game plan, and you’ve got a good chance of picking up points."
Joel Asoro on how Ronaldinho and Jermain Defoe inspired him:
The 18-year-old forward scored the winner against Hull City last weekend and he has been speaking about players that have inspired him.
The Swedish teenager admits one of his heroes growing up was ex-Barcelona and Brazil ace Ronaldinho and also how Jermain Defoe inspired him when he arrived at Sunderland.
In an in-depth interview with the club website, Asoro said: "I loved Ronaldinho and started watching him when he played for PSG and then when he went to Barcelona.
"He was unbelievable and someone I really looked up to, as some of the things he could do you can’t even put into words.
"People forget about him when they talk about the great players nowadays, but he was a special player.
"Then when I came here and saw people like Jermain and I couldn’t believe it, I was a big fan of them then and I’m still a fan of them now because they are great players and still follow their games.
"I have learnt and can learn a lot from them, Jermain was always telling me to work hard and practice my finishing because in senior football you can’t expect to have three or four chances, and you have to take the one you get.
"I took my chance on Saturday but I can’t expect to play every game, so in training I’ll continue to show that I have the desire to play for the team and do well for the club.
"I’m happy with my progress and Saturday was a special day for me, but I want to score hundreds of goals and this only the start for me."
Under-23s host Arsenal:
And finally, Sunderland Under-23s are back in action this Sunday when they host Arsenal at Eppleton CW, in Hetton, in Premier League 2 (KO noon).
Elliott Dickman believes a heavy fixture schedule will only serve to benefit Sunderland’s academy players with a number of U18s once again set to feature, as U23 regulars continue their development with the first-team and out on loan.
Dickman said: "We’re rolling into Sunday’s game on the back of games last Tuesday and Friday.
"The amount of games we have at the moment is all part of the players’ development and it’s something they have to get used to, as whatever level you play at there is that demand and expectation."