Amad Diallo drops Sunderland transfer hint despite Manchester United plan plus Jack Clarke recalls key moment

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There were still over 10 minutes to play at Deepdale, yet Sunderland fans (5,714 of them) in the Bill Shankly Stand were ole-ing every pass.

The Black Cats had all but completed their job, storming into a 3-0 lead over a shell-shocked Preston side courtesy of second-half goals from Amad, Alex Pritchard and Jack Clarke.

Their play-off hopes now depended on results elsewhere.

There was some tension too, yet when news broke that Blackburn had taken a 4-3 lead at Millwall (securing Sunderland’s place in top six), the away end cheered as if their own side had scored.

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Amad Diallo playing for Sunderland at Preston. Picture by FRANK REIDAmad Diallo playing for Sunderland at Preston. Picture by FRANK REID
Amad Diallo playing for Sunderland at Preston. Picture by FRANK REID

Here are some of the moments you may have missed on a dramatic day:

Amad’s hints at potential return

Sunderland fans will now get to see Manchester United loanee Amad for a few more matches after setting up a two-legged play-off semi-final against Luton.

The 20-year-old was named Sky Sports’ man of the match after his excellent opener against Preston, and was given the award by team-mate Luke O’Nien during a post-match interview.

When discussing the support from Sunderland fans, Amad said: “I enjoy playing for the fans because it gives us so much energy. Now we are focused for next year.

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Amad is set to be part of Manchester United’s pre-season tour in America this summer, but when asked about a potential return to Wearside he added: “I hope maybe we go in the Premier League next season and maybe I come back, I don’t know.”

Jack Clarke’s important intervention

After Amad had opened the scoring nine minutes after half-time, Preston almost drew level just three minutes later.

First, Sunderland goalkeeper Anthony Patterson made an excellent save to keep out Patrick Bauer’s header from a corner, before Clarke cleared the ball with an impressive bicycle kick.

“It was just to get the ball out to be honest,” Clarke told the Echo when asked about his clearance.

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“I’m not the bravest when it comes to sticking my head in so I just had to improvise and get the ball away.

“It probably kept us in the game to be honest but they are the little things you need to fall for you in the game.”

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O’Nien handed the captain’s armband

O’Nien also enjoyed a special moment in front of the away end after the full-time whistle, when he pumped his fists to prompt loud cheers from the travelling fans.

The 28-year-old was once again handed the captain’s armband after Lynden Gooch was forced off with a knock in the second half.

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A late change to Preston’s starting XI

Sunderland fans may remember Bauer’s name, after the centre-back scored Charlton’s winning goal against the Black Cats in the 2019 League One play-off final.

The 30-year-old defender wasn’t set to start at Deepdale but came into the host’s starting XI following an injury to Andrew Hughes in the warm-up.

Thankfully for Sunderland, Bauer didn’t have a big part to play on this occasion.

Preston boss watches from the stands

North End boss Ryan Lowe also had to watch from the stands, serving a touchline ban for his part in a brawl during a match at Swansea last month.

Lowe came up on the big screen at Deepdale and was applauded by the home fans, yet he could do little to help his side.