ROOKIES Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-won must have felt like the naughty kids turning up late for the first day of school.
While Sunderland’s other summer signings have benefited from a bedding-in period with their new employers, the two strikers found themselves given a baptism of fire in their maiden day on the job.
Friday morning’s training session, followed by a two-hour flight to Germany, will have barely given them an opportunity to learn the names of their new colleagues ahead of yesterday’s friendly against Arminia Bielefeld.
It must have been particularly galling for 20-year-old Ji, who can only communicate through the international language of football, with Jack Colback at least providing a familiar face for 18-year-old Wickham. Yet, with Asamoah Gyan unlikely to feature in Sunderland’s remaining encounters in Germany, there is an opportunity for the duo to make an early impression on Steve Bruce.
They were given 45 minutes each at the unseasonly rowdy Schuco Arena yesterday and neither did their cause any harm.
Ji provided the more pleasant surprise of the two. After a scrappy start, his control was clean, he moved intelligently down the channel and, at 6ft 2in, used his height well to link-up with Steed Malbranque in the hole behind him.
Read more of this match report in tonight’s Sunderland Echo.