SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Nosworthy boost, vital Leeds game

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

NYRON HOPES FOR PALACE DATE:

NYRON NOSWORTHY is hoping to hand Roy Keane an early Christmas present by declaring himself fit for the Christmas programme.

And the bustling right-back has not yet ruled himself out of being available for the game against Crystal Palace later this week.

He told the Echo: “I’ve missed the last three weeks with an abdominal strain, but I’m now properly on the mend and hope to be back very soon.

“I’ve been doing a lot of running and working in the last few days, so hopefully I should be back in full training by the end of the week with a view to possibly being available for the game against Crystal Palace.

“If I don’t make that game, then I’d definitely expect to be available for the Leeds United game on Boxing Day and the ones after that. I’m hoping to be back in training before the end of the week – I’d far rather train than just spend all my time running and exercising!

“I think I have an outside chance of being involved in the Palace game but if I don’t think it’s realistic, I’ll be the first to say.”

Nosworthy’s last game for Sunderland was the 2-1 win over Queens Park Rangers in which is presence proved influential – and he says he can’t wait to be back.

He said: “The squad has had a couple of injuries and suspensions which haven’t been helpful but the players available for games have done really well in keeping a good run going. To break into the top half of the table and be within sight of the play-offs is great for us after not making the best of starts to the season.

“And I can’t wait to be involved again and play my part. The more players available to the manager the better – especially in what is one of the busiest parts of the season.

“In the New Year, there could be new signings coming in. We’ll have players fully recovered from injury and we might also have loan signings coming back into the squad. So I don’t see a problem for us from January onwards in terms of numbers.

“It’s just the next few games we could really do with as many fit players as possible and, fingers crossed, in the next few days, I’ll be one of them.”

GARY ROWELL

THIS LEEDS GAME HAS EXTRA MEANING:

There’s two games before the next Rowell Report and the two fixtures are as different as chalk and cheese.

The trip to Selhurst Park to take on Crystal Palace this Friday is arguably the least anticipated game of the season. While the Boxing Day match against Leeds United at the Stadium of Light is perhaps the most eagerly awaited.

I don’t know what it is about Selhurst Park, but the trip there never fills anyone with joy.

Maybe it’s because it’s such an unglamorous ground, and maybe it’s because Sunderland have such a bad record there or maybe because, even though it’s London – usually one of the most enjoyable destinations for fans – it’s also difficult and awkward to get to.

And it’s on Friday night. And it’s on TV.

Either way, no-one will be looking forward to it particularly and personally. I’ll be more than happy if we come away from there with a point.

In contrast, the Leeds game at the Stadium of Light is the BIGGEST game of the season for Sunderland fans in my opinion.

Forget where they are in the league, this is the fixture with the most history, tradition and needle surrounding it this season.

And in the absence of Newcastle United and Middlesbrough, it’s also our derby game.

As much as anything else, I hope that we can get a 40,000 plus crowd for the game because that would send out a statement.

People already know about Sunderland’s big attendances ut to get above 40,000 in this division would really send out signals that the club is on the up and that Roy Keane and Niall Quinn are having their effect.

After Newcastle United, Leeds United were always the team I wanted to beat, even more than the Boro and I’m hoping for a Boxing Day crowd and result to give everyone at our club a lift.

The occasion will have an extra bit of specialness for me because this is the first time that the fixture will have been played since the statue of Bob Stokoe was unveiled at the Stadium of Light.

I always walk past the statue of Bob on my way to the ground and that walk will have extra poignancy this time around. I was in the stands as a fan at Wembley when Bob steered Sunderland to victory over Leeds in 1973.

And I was lucky enough to play under the Messiah when I turned pro at Roker Park.

Hopefully, Sunderland can get a result which would make Bob proud when Leeds come to town next weekend.