Sunderland AFC news: What Tony Mowbray said about another injury setback and Norwich City

Sunderland are preparing to face Norwich City at Carrow Road – and head coach Tony Mowbray held his pre-match press conference earlier today.

The Black Cats will be hoping to bounce back from last weekend’s 5-1 defeat by Stoke, their third consecutive victory in the Championship.

That result has left Sunderland six points behind Norwich, who occupy the final play-off position.

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David Wagner’s side are also in fine form after taking 10 points from their last five games.

Sunderland head coach Tony Mowbray. Picture by FRANK REID
Sunderland head coach Tony Mowbray. Picture by FRANK REID
Sunderland head coach Tony Mowbray. Picture by FRANK REID

Here’s what was said at The Academy of Light as Mowbray spoke to the media:

RECAP: Tony Mowbray press conference

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Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Tony Mowbray’s pre-match press conference ahead of Sunderland’s Championship fixture against Norwich.

The Black Cats boss is set to speak to the media at 12:30pm, and we;ll have live updates from The Academy of Light.

Stick around and refresh the page for the latest SAFC news.

We’ll start with the latest Sunderland team news.

The Black Cats could welcome back Lynden Gooch and Dennis Cirkin to the squad for this weekend’s trip to Carrow Road.

Gooch returned to training last week following a knee issue but wasn’t quite ready for the game against Stoke last weekend.

Cirkin, meanwhile, has struggled in the aftermath of suffering a concussion at Millwall last month - but was taking part in some very light, non-contact drills last week.

Mowbray may be forced to make at least one change to his starting XI after confirming Aji Alese’s half-time substitution against Stoke was because of an injury.

We’ll get a further update from Mowbray later today.

The latest weather update

Temperatures are expected to rise again ahead of Sunderland’s Championship fixture with Norwich City – after an arctic blast hit many parts of the UK this week.

How Norwich are shaping up

Norwich have been in excellent form in recent weeks, taking 10 points from their last five matches.

The Canaries didn’t have any fresh injuries ahead of last weekend’s 3-2 win at Millwall, yet top scorer Josh Sargent has missed the side’s last three games with an injury.

Sunderland have confirmed that Aji Alese will miss the rest of the season with a thigh injury.

The defender was substituted at half-time against Stoke last weekend.

Mowbray on Alese injury

“Disappointing for Aji really.

“I think for us Dennis is still not ready. Like every football club you have to get on with it but it does feel like we’ve been hit very hard.

“I remember being on the cusp of Ross getting fit coming to the end of the window in January thinking we are going to have a brilliant second half of the season thinking everyone is going to be fit and we were only going to get stronger. Obviously that hasn’t been the case.

“There’s a frustration attached to it and we’ve had to go to the well with the same players most of the time and it’s been difficult

“Huge credit to the group and the players, I know we’re going through a sticky spell at the moment but it’s an opportunity to come out of the other end and we should look forward to these next three or four fixtures against teams in the top six.”

“We’ll attack these games, be positive and see what comes of it.”

“Listen, it was a great pick I would suggest from the recruitment department to pick Aji out from West Ham.

“He brings versatility of being able to play at centre-half and being athletic enough to play at full-back. He has shown he can join in and push up higher up the pitch and get in at the back stick and be a threat to the opposition.

“It’s going to be a blow for us but we have to deal with it and keep going.

“Disappointed for him really, disappointed that he’s had a good breakthrough season, and yet it looks like his season is finished.”

“I hope we can go to Norwich which is obviously a tough game, they are up into the top six now and have been in the Premier League.

“Now they have pushed themselves into the play-off positions so we know away from home it’s a tough game, but we have faced these games in the past and will hopefully give a really good account of ourselves and make life difficult for them.

“We need to test ourselves really. I think Norwich away will be a good football match. They are a good football team and want to play with the ball.

“I said to them this morning I was watching some of the chances we created away at Fulham and the energy and the drive and the number of bodies we got forward in the box in that particular game.

“With total respect to Norwich, Fulham were sixth or seventh in the Premier League so we should really fear anybody who perceives themselves as a football team

“We will look forward to the challenge of that game and then two home games against Sheffield United and Luton.”

Mowbray on Harry Gardiner

“I haven’t seen the young man since he scored, he scored two.

“He hasn’t been out training with us. He is part of that development programme that the club are trying to push hard and hopefully there is some young talent coming through.

“We know there is with the likes of Rigg in the years below who played against Stoke under-21s and he did very well.

“You have to be careful of throwing them in. We will stick generally with the group we’ve got.

“It’s a difficult time at the moment because like I said we are going back to the same players and they become vulnerable to injury and muscle fatigue, stresses and strains.”

“We are trying to get that balance right.”

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