James Vaughan on his Sunderland debut, penalty miss and what fans can expect
Simon Grayson made a point of singling out James Vaughan for praise, moments before he offered a stern warning to the rest of his players.
It was a difficult debut for Vaughan, one penalty missed and a chance to head into an open goal spurned.
The 500 or so Sunderland fans who travelled to St Johnstone, however, gave their new striker a good ovation, impressed with his tenacity and hold-up play.
Just hours after the game, he was promising them on twitter that he'd work on his penalties.
Grayson wants down to earth characters, hard work first and foremost, and Vaughan fits the bill perfectly. For the 29-year-old, it is a brief he is perfectly suited to. The goals, he is quite sure, will follow.
“At the end of the day pre-season’s about fitness but I’m not going to get into a habit of missing goals and chances – that’s not what strikers do. On Saturday they didn’t go in but I’m going to keep working as hard as I can, getting into positions and the goals will come," Vaughan said.
“It’s been a real whirlwind few days. I haven’t trained with the team, I missed a pen, sung a song and played a game. But it’ll be good next week to train and get to know the lads.
“The hard work starts then."
When Grayson arrived at the Stadium of Light, he was quick to point that he would sign players who were coming to play for the shirt, for the opportunity, not the money. Again, his first recruit up front is an obvious fit.
Injuries have in recent years taken their toll and when he dropped into League One last season, he thought the chance to play for a club of Sunderland's stature had gone.
Now fitter than ever, it is an unexpected opportunity he is determined not to let pass him by.
Vaughan said: “Yeah, if I’m being honest, I did. The age I’m at, sometimes you see people drop down (a division) and don’t come back but I was very determined to show what I’m about. I believe I’m good enough to be here. The gaffer’s shown tremendous faith in bringing me here and I just want to repay him and the fans for the support they’ve shown me.
“I’m chomping at the bit. This opportunity for me is fantastic.
“I do believe I’m good enough to be here but I need to show that to the fans and the manager. I’ll just keep working hard and hopefully that’s enough.
“I’m going to be there regardless – missing them, scoring them, I’ll be there. All you need to know is I’ll be trying. I’ll get on the end of a few (chances) and the goals will come," he added.
“I played the most games I played in a season last year and touch wood I’m feeling even better than that this year. I’m ready to knuckle down and get going again.
“I’m definitely wiser but it’s in my nature to put myself on the line and throw my body around. I’m going to get knocks but at the end of the day as long as I manage myself and get into the positions hopefully my style of play will benefit the team."
Twelve years since he became the Premier League's youngest ever goalscorer, Vaughan has his eye on making it back to the big time.
“To be honest, I expect it [promotion]. You look in that changing room and there’s some players there that shouldn’t be in the Championship. We’ve just got to show the work ethic that everybody deserves. If we do that, I’m sure we’ll be at the top of the division," he said.