Sunderland duo handed international call-ups as Middlesbrough boss makes transfer admission

Sunderland duo Trai Hume and Dan Ballard have received call-ups to the Northern Ireland squad by returning manager Michael O’Neill.
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Hume and Ballard join former two-time Black Cats loanee Jonny Evans in the squad for this month’s Euro 2024 qualifiers with San Marino and Finland.

Another former Sunderland man, Paddy McNair, is also in O’Neill’s squad for the qualifiers, having continued to impress under Michael Carrick at Middlesbrough.

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Hume, 20, made the move to Sunderland from Linfield in the January of 2022 and was part of the squad that won promotion from League One to the Championship.

Trai HumeTrai Hume
Trai Hume

The Ballymena-born defender has since cemented himself as a first-team regular under Tony Mowbray this season and has featured 17 times in the league this season.

Hume’s defensive teammate at Sunderland, Dan Ballard, has also been called up to O’Niell’s squad after a string of decent performances for the Black Cats since returning from a foot injury.

Michael Carrick makes transfer admission

Middlesbrough manager Michael Carrick has opened up on Wolves loanee Ryan Giles’ success at the Riverside Stadium, admitting it could be difficult to secure the player’s services again next season.

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“It’s not just as simple as, ‘Would we like to keep him’,” admitted Carrick on Giles. “There are obviously things that need to fall into place.

"Whether we keep some of the loan players or whether we don’t keep them, it’s not as easy as yes or no. But at the moment, the boys are doing really well and I’m delighted with the way it’s going.”

Carrick added: “He’s been terrific, and he was quite ill actually at the start of the week. He was touch and go on whether he was going to make it, so credit to him for getting himself into a place where he was able to play.

“His attributes - being so quick and such a good left foot - make him a big part of our attacking structure and strategy. There was a time when teams could see him doing so well and they were looking at that and shutting it off. So, we’ve had to find other ways to attack and stretch teams. But when he gets into those positions, as he has done, he’s such a massive threat.”