Rowell Report: Encouraging signs from Sunderland in Hong Kong

Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist
Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist
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SUNDERLAND racked up the air miles this summer with trips to Italy, Denmark and Hong Kong on the pre-season itinerary.

The Asia Trophy was the most high profile, and any tournament with Spurs and Manchester City competing in it has to be significant.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of the lucky ones who were actually out there, like most of our fans, I had to settle for TV coverage.

While bearing in mind that results in pre-season games, no matter how high-profile, can be misleading, I was encouraged by what I saw.

Beating Spurs and narrowly losing to City, for me, were just details.

What I really liked was how the new players performed and the fact they all looked sharp and eager.

But perhaps the biggest plus was the re-emergence and form of Wes Brown.

Watching him, you would never have believed he had been out for 18 months.

He looked assured and confident and even scored a goal against Spurs.

His pedigree and ability have never been in doubt - it is only his injury record that goes against him.

If he can regain full fitness and more importantly stay injury-free, that will be a massive plus for us this season.

The new players are obviously going to be the main focus of attention in the early games but a fit Wes Brown could be as important and influential as any of them.