George Dobson reveals Jack Ross message to him and what Sunderland fans can expect
George Dobson is looking to take the next step in his career and help Sunderland win promotion back to the Championship.
The 21-year-old midfielder became the fifth signing of the summer when he signed a three-year deal at the Stadium of Light, Dobson joining from Walsall for an undisclosed fee.
Dobson, capable of playing as a defensive midfielder or in a more attacking box-to-box role, wore the captain’s armband at relegated Walsall last season.
He described the pain of relegation as the worst feeling possible in football and he is looking forward to battling at the top end of the table this campaign.
Dobson may be only 21 but he already has more than 100 senior appearances under his belt in the Football League following two spells at Walsall, while he also has experience of playing abroad after a year at Dutch side Sparta Rotterdam.
Sunderland’s interest was first made public a month ago and having their first bid rejected, the Black Cats landed their man at the second attempt.
The ex-West Ham United and Arsenal youth player said: “It’s overwhelming really because it’s been a long few weeks but to get the deal over the line is just a dream come true really and I just can’t wait to get started.
“It has dragged and I have been in a bit of limbo at Walsall so to get the move finalised was brilliant and I am looking forward to getting started.
“Getting relegated is one of the worst feelings you can experience in football, personally I feel like I put in some good performances even though the team struggled.
“I am now looking up and my main focus is getting Sunderland back to where they belong and pushing up the league.
“I’ve played at Sunderland before and watched games from the stands – it’s an unbelievable ground and the fans are just a different level to anything else in the league.
“Having that huge crowd makes such a difference – I just can’t wait to get started and get playing for such a huge club,” he told the club website.
Dobson has a good pedigree and a wealth of experience for such a young player, including a year in Holland, though he only made five appearances.
“I got the opportunity to go to Holland on a permanent deal, I tried it but it wasn’t for me. I didn’t enjoy the way of life out there.
“I came back to Walsall and played every week since for the last 18-months or so.
“For my career and development the best thing when I was younger was to drop down to a club in League One and try and play as many games as I possibly could.
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“At 21 to then get the step up to come and play for Sunderland - such a massive cub - with 100 games already under my belt, is a fantastic achievement personally.”
In terms of his style, what can Sunderland fans expect?
“I can either sit and look to get on the ball and protect the back four or get box-to-box, high energy in people’s faces and showing a lot of passion and pride for the club I am playing for.
“The manager here has told me to come and prove to people that I’m good enough to play for this club and at this level.
“He’s told me to play my natural game and help the club progress back to where we belong.
“The facilities here are just on a different level to where I’ve been at before.
“The difference in facilities are just frightening so to be able to use them every day to improve myself and better my game is something I’m really looking forward to doing.”
Ross added: “George has been on our radar for a while, so I’m delighted we were able to finalise a deal and bring him to the football club.
“He’s still young, but he is an experienced player with over 100 senior games under his belt, and throughout his career he has demonstrated quality, maturity and leadership.
“I’m confident he will thrive under the pressure that comes with playing for Sunderland and become an even better player in the process.”
He featured as a defensive midfielder for much of the last campaign but at Sunderland he is likely to play a more advanced role, his energy and athleticism key.
Dobson becomes signing number five at the Stadium of Light this summer following the arrivals of goalkeeper Lee Burge, defenders Conor McLaughlin and Jordan Willis and striker Marc McNulty.
McNulty joined on a season-long loan deal from Championship side Reading on Tuesday evening, he was followed 24-hours later by Dobson as Sunderland's transfer business cranked up ahead of the final friendly of the season.
The Black Cats host Heerenveen at the Stadium of Light on Saturday night (KO 7pm), the final friendly of pre-season ahead of the new League One campaign kicking off with the visit of Oxford United a week on Saturday.
Sunderland are aiming to bounce back from the heartbreak of last season's play-off final defeat to Charlton Athletic.