Sunderland AFC news: Academy products Jordan Pickford and Jordan Henderson hailed, winger's message ahead of Stoke clash
Sunderland AFC academy products Jordan Pickford and Jordan Henderson have been praised by club legend Kevin Ball.
It comes after goalkeeper Pickford was called up into the England squad and Henderson was named England captain for the Three Lions' World Cup qualifier in Slovenia tonight.
Liverpool captain Henderson rose through the ranks at the Academy of Light before later earning himself a move to Anfield in 2011.
Washington-born Pickford, meanwhile, has starred in goal for the Black Cats in the wake of Vito Mannone's elbow injury.
Ball told the club website: "I’m not surprised by what Jordan [Henderson] has achieved because his desire to be the best is fabulous.
"As a young kid I found him mature to talk to, physically he may have been behind some of the lads but he never let that bother him.
"When he moved to Liverpool people were always going to judge him because he was going to have to step up to the plate, but the fact he has done that and he is Jurgen Klopp's captain – what more could you ask of someone?
"It is fabulous, absolutely brilliant what he has done and he is still humble which is a sign of the great person he is – he is a leader."
Ball added: "Everyone associated with Sunderland AFC should be so proud because they are two local lads representing their country with pride.
"It’s an eye opener to players that this is what you can chose to do if you want and they have both done it with hard work.
"They both have great ability but what overrides that is their desire to be the best they can possibly be.
"Hard works helps you achieve your potential, you can have all the potential but without hard work it’s worthless."
Meanwhile, Wahbi Khazri admits Sunderland’s points tally is not good enough but insists there is no reason to panic.
The winless Black Cats currently prop up the rest of the Premier League table, with just two points from their opening seven games.
Sunderland travel to second-bottom Stoke City this weekend when top flight football returns after the international break.
"No panic, we need to work hard every day and play 100 per cent every game," Khazri told the Echo, when asked about the current feeling amongst the struggling squad.
"If we do that then the goals and the wins will come back.
And finally, tickets for Sunderland’s Premier League clash with West Ham United later this month are still on sale.
The Black Cats make their first trip to the London Stadium on Saturday 22 October for a 3pm kick-off.
Tickets are priced at Â£30 for adults and Â£25 for under 21s and over 65s.