SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Edwards is ready, Keane urges players to ‘step it up’

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Here’s what the Echo was reporting on SAFC 10 years ago today.


Winger relishing home debut

CARLOS EDWARDS hopes to erase painful memories when he makes his home debut for Sunderland against Ipswich Town tomorrow.

 The winger is being tipped for a start against the Tractor Boys after having to be content with a substitute appearance in last weekend’s 1-0 FA Cup exit at Preston.

 He was part of a Luton side thumped 5-0 at Ipswich in October – only a couple of weeks after the Black Cats went down 3-1 at Portman Road – but events before that hammer prey more on the mind of the Trinidad & Tobago international.

 “We were hammered, but the result – though it was very bad – wasn’t the worst thing to happen for us that weekend,” recalled the 28-year-old.

 “The game was on a Sunday and we were on the way to our hotel the day before when my team-mate Sol Davis suffered a stroke.

 “It was a terrible experience seeing your friend and colleague suffering like that. All of us were shaken-up by it. The game was still played and we went into it determined to put that behind us and do our best for the club and its fans.

 “But I think the previous day’s events played a big part in our defeat and I hope for a much better weekend and result against Ipswich if I’m involved tomorrow.

 “That result at Ipswich was an example of how all the teams can be beaten in this league and it is possible to be beaten badly on a bad day.”

 Davis was expected to spend six month out of action after that health scare, but beat the odds to make a first team return at Christmas.

 Edwards was relieved about that quick recovery, but is concentrating now on Sunderland.

 He was sent on as a substitute just after the hour at Preston last weekend with his new side chasing a 1-0 deficit – and with only ten men after the first half dismissal of Liam Miller – who misses tomorrow’s encounter as a result.

 The winger said: “It is easier having an impact starting a game rather than coming on as a substitute, particularly with ten men. I did my best and I had no complaints about being on the bench because the lads had been performing well before I arrived. My hope is to get in the team and keep my place.

 “The Sunderland fans down at Preston gave me a lovely reception and I’ve been excited since I came to the club about playing at the Stadium of Light.

 “I obviously played here last month when I was with Luton and we lost. The stadium and the support left a big impression on me. The supporters were kind to me last weekend and it’s up to me to do my job so that I continue to have a good relationship with them.

 “I don’t know what the gaffer’s plans are for the team but I’m here to do my best when he needs me.”


Keane calls on players to kickstart promotion push

ROY KEANE has called on his Sunderland players to step up their game from now on, starting with tomorrow’s game against Ipswich Town.

 The Sunderland manager has his eyes fixed firmly on a promotion charge and says that Sunderland can afford to lose very few more games if they are to push themselves into the promotion frame.

 He told the Echo: “We know Ipswich will be tough and well organised and a difficult team to beat.

 “But we have to look beyond that consideration now and go out there thinking about the need to win games.

 “We’ve strengthened the squad in the last few days and we’ve not got the players available to us which should allow us to go on a good run. And we are keen to put together a run which will push into the play off positions.

 “We’ve had chanced in the past to break into the top six but we haven’t taken them. Now we’ve got to look at doing that.

 “We’ve lost too many games this season, without a doubt and we’re getting to the stage where every single loss from now on will hurt us. Any defeats in the second half of the season are going to be very difficult to make up.

 “We had one or two disappointments in the first half of the season and one of them was at Ipswich, when we gave some bad goals away. Another was at Preston in the League when we lost 4-1.

 “We can’t afford any more slip-ups like in those games, giving two or three sloppy goals away. If you do that, you’re going to get nowhere as a team.

 “We need to be winning games and if we’re not winning them, at least make sure that we aren’t losing them.

 “After looking at the Preston game again on tape I was, if anything, more disappointed than I had been originally because we allowed them to score what was a pretty sloppy goal from our point of view.

 “And that’s happened quite a few times this season, that the goals we’ve conceded have been ones that we could have avoided with a bit more concentration.

 “I think that the remainder of the season we’ve got to be strong defensively, and we’ve got to make sure that we don’t concede easy goals or go on to concede two goals in quick succession.”

 Sunderland go into the game in tenth place in the Championship – their highest league position of the season – thanks to the 2-0 victory over Leicester City on New Year’s Day.

 And Keane is eager to press on as Sunderland look to avenge his first defeat this weekend – the 3-1 reverse at Portman Road back in September.

 He said: “We’ve come a long way in a short time but we’ve really got to be looking at having a good second half of the season. We have players here who are capable of putting us on a good run and I think the new signings will definitely strengthen us.

 “Hopefully we can give the fans something to cheer, starting with the game against Ipswich on Saturday.”

 Keane is without midfielder Liam Miller through suspension while defender Stanislav Varga is extremely doubtful with a groin injury.

 Nyron Nosworthy has recovered from a hamstring problem and is available again and new signing Anthony Stokes comes into contention.