Sunderland legend reacts to fixture list, manager search and takeover talk

Ball is looking forward to the season opener
Ball is looking forward to the season opener
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Kevin Ball thinks Sunderland's opening fixture against Derby County will be a 'fantastic' occasion.

The Black Cats have been handed a tough opening start to the season, with the opening fixtures followed by away games at Norwich City and Sheffield Wednesday.

Leeds United then visit the Stadium of Light on August 19th.

Ball thinks those high profile games are perfect for Sunderland.

He said: "I think it’s a fantastic opening game. The fact that its a home game, on a Friday night, to kick off the season, there’ll be a full house and a fantastic atmosphere.

"That’s what makes it all the better for me [tough away games]. With our fans we always get a fantastic away contingent, they’ll thoroughly enjoy it. The opening fixtures are fantastic."

Ball, speaking to Sky Sports News shortly after the official fixtures reveal, admitted that uncertainty over the managerial and ownership situation on Wearside is not ideal but called on the players to ensure they are ready for the new season regardless.

He said: "In an ideal world you’d like them to be sorted as soon as possible, going into pre-season it’d be nice to have a manager in place. If there are to be a new owners then so be it, it’d be nice to have that sorted out.

"If it isn’t the case, we have fantastic staff at the club who will make sure the players here get as fit as they can, pre-season has already been planned so everything is in place. The one thing I’ve always said to players when it comes to pre-season is that is about each individual getting as fit as they can, whether they are going to stay at the club or leave they need to make sure they get fit for themselves.

"Pre-season should take of itself, but in an ideal world it’d be nice to have a manager in place, I’m sure Martin Bain will be working very hard."

Ball also said that the Black Cats would have to be resilient in one of the world's most demanding leagues.

"In the Championship, the games come thick and fast. You’re sometimes playing literally three times a week and the mental preparation for that is very important. The physical preparation is important, how you manage the players through that," he said.

"The staff we’ve got at the club for that are absolutely fantastic. The players have to be resilient, you have to be tough, you have to take your knocks, you’ve got to stand up and start again and I wish i was playing to be perfectly honest. We’d all love to be in the Premier League but that isn’t the case and we’ve got to start fresh."