Off-field issues could 'sharpen' Sunderland, Derby County boss says

Rowett is beginning his first full season in charge of Derby County
Rowett is beginning his first full season in charge of Derby County
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Gary Rowett says Sunderland's off-field issues could 'sharpen' their focus ahead of the Championship opener.

Darron Gibson faced an internal disciplinary procedure this week after implying that some of his team-mates did not want to play for the club.

Simon Grayson said on Wednesday that he would consider the Irish midfielder for selection despite his 'reputation being in tatters, to a certain extent'.

The Sunderland boss added that the timing had been particularly disappointing, coming a week before the start of the season.

Rowett, however, has urged his side not to be complacent.

Rowett said: “It can go two ways. It could have a detrimental effect but equally it could really sharpen their focus and get some of these issues out of the way.

“We are aware of it but I don’t take too much notice of it.”

The Derby County boss also had praise for Black Cats boss Simon Grayson and says the new manager will have his side motivated for the season ahead.

“We have to expect them to be strong, because they have Premier League players and parachute payments to enable them to strengthen the team quickly," he said.

“There is probably still a bit of change going on there but Simon has done a fantastic job wherever he has been and I expect Sunderland to be very strong and motivated.

“We will have to be at our best to get a result.”

Rowett also said that strikers Nick Blackman and Matej Vydra are still doubts for the game after pre-season injury issues.

Midfielder George Thorne, left-back Max Lowe, centre-back Jason Shackell and former Black Cats striker Darren Bent are all unavailable.