Sunderland AFC news: What Tony Mowbray said about Luke O'Nien, Amad and team news ahead of Luton fixture
Sunderland are preparing to face Luton Town at the Stadium of Light this weekend – and head coach Tony Mowbray spoke to the media today.
The Black Cats are still dealing with several injury issues ahead of the match at the Stadium of Light, with one game remaining until this month’s international break.
Sunderland will be looking to bounce back following Wednesday’s 2-1 against Sheffield United, with the Black Cats now 12th in the Championship table.
Mowbray’s side drew 1-1 with Luton when the sides last met back in October’s reverse fixture.
Here’s what was said at the Academy of Light:
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RECAP: Tony Mowbray press conference
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Tony Mowbray’s pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s match against Luton Town.
The Black Cats boss is set to speak to the media at 1pm, and we’ll have live updates from the Academy of Light.
Stick around and refresh the page for the latest Black Cats news.
Sunderland are still dealing with several injury concerns ahead of this weekend’s match.
Luke O’Nien hobbled off during Wednesday’s match against Sheffield United, with Mowbray saying after the match the player will have to be assessed for the Luton fixture.
Manchester United loanee Amad has missed the side’s last two matches with a hamstring issue and could return to the squad.
Dennis Cirkin has also been absent in recent weeks due to concussion, yet Mowbray was hopeful that the defender could be cleared to return to full training this week.
Ross Stewart, Corry Evans, Elliot Embleton and Aji Alese remain out with long-term setbacks.
We’ll get a further update from Mowbray later today.
“I think the team is giving everything it’s got, doing its best, I don’t think it’s out of form. I think it’s competing but when you are playing against good teams it’s difficult to get results.
“I would say Luton have found a way to win football matches recently, I think three 1-0s on the bounce.
“Defensively they are very, very solid, very strong, very powerful and physical at the top end of the pitch. I think they have got along with Burnley the best away record in the league so they make life really difficult.
“They get the ball up pretty quickly to two big strikers, they are athletic, they are strong. It’s a big challenge for us.”
“Enjoy the football, try to keep growing as a team.
“We keep getting thrown different challenges with unavailable players and some players coming back who are not quite ready, and yet we can put them on the bench.
“I think the team have for the vast majority of the season competed really well in most of the games, and that’s what we have to do for the last nine games to compete well and see where it takes us and where we finish in the league.”
“Luke O’Nien should be alright.
“A few didn’t train today and we will see tomorrow if they will be available, a few coming back.
“Amad trained today so there’s a positive for us.
“We have different challenges in different positions and different areas, players who might be available or are not available.
“You will see when the team sheet comes out and think, ‘why is he not playing?’ It’s probably not for me to tell you the day before who is available and who’s not available.
“As always we’ve got some challenges but will give it our best shot and hopefully be competitive in the game.”
“Luton when you look at them, they’ve come a long way in a short period of time.
“Having played against Luton for the last two or three years, I remember speaking to Mick Harford and Paul Hart when they played against Blackburn maybe three years and them saying they’d like to get to where we were at.
“I look at them now and are doing exceptionally well and are actually competing with Blackburn for third, fourth, fifth in the league, and they did that last year as well so it’s not a fluke.
“They are very, very competitive, they are strong, powerful, they flood the box full of men and are a very athletic team, and we have to be ready for that and impose what we do on the game.
“As we’ve seen in recent weeks, sometimes that’s not easy for us because of the nature of the team we are and the inexperience of the team, but we will once again give it our best shot.”
“I’m really happy with this team, and yet it’s not the team I want to put out. There are probably seven players that would get in the starting line-up of this team at any given weekend who are not available because of injury.
“The players we are choosing from, I can’t question their drive and their desire and their commitment, every game I have to say.
“Even losing 5-1 at home, it shows you what they are made of that they go away to Norwich and win 1-0 against a team that were in the Premier League last year.
“And ok we lose to Sheffield United who are second in the division and their motivation for that game was huge because they had just watched Middlesbrough drop two points and it was a huge opportunity for them
“I think with some really poor officiating they got over the line and got the three points, otherwise we’d have got a point in the bag against a team that are second in the league
We have to take the positives and not think we’ve only won one in five.
“After Luton we have to go to Burnley and have to give a good account of ourselves as we can. At the same time that might be the game they get promoted so let’s just look forward to the challenge really.”
“I think have we got seven or eight going away.
“We had 16 training today and had to bring in some under-18, under-21s to make the numbers up and have a 10 vs 10.
“If eight are going away and we only have 16 training, we will only have eight in training so we will work the individuals. Wingers will work on their crossing and delivery, strikers will work on their finishing, defenders will work on their defensive qualities.
“The international breaks, you haven’t got all your team so it’s very difficult to work on your team.
“The reality is we are playing on a Friday night against Burnley and three or four of them won’t be back until Wednesday afternoon. We will have one day to prepare for Burnley with the team.
“They feel like they are excuses but we have seven or eight players who are away with their countries and won’t be back until the middle of that week before we have to play on a Friday night.
“It’s never easy but I’m just trying to be realistic and tell you the problems that we have, other wise you might think you have had two weeks to prepare for Burnley and should give a really good account of yourselves, when we probably have one day to work on it.”
“I think he’s been clever because he hasn’t changed very much from what I can see.
“I think they use their energy and commitment to make life really difficult for teams.
“There are a few teams that play with the intensity they play at but I think they are almost like an upgrade on some of those teams in our league that play a certain way.
“I think they have bags of energy, they lock teams in, they get it forward, make you defend, don’t make it easy for you to pass through them and get out. It’s not an accident they are in the top six.
“Huge credit that the coach has assessed what he’s got, seen that it’s not broken, and it wasn’t broke because the manager didn’t get sacked and went to manage in the Premier League
“He took over a very good team and he’s just kept them going and has done a very good job doing that.”