Sunderland’s new signings adamant League One move is not a ‘step backward’ for their international careers

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Sunderland’s new signings believe their move will strengthen their international ambitions, rather than weaken them.

Jon McLaughlin and Tom Flanagan have both had a taste of the international scene in recent times, with Flanagan earning his first cap for Northern Ireland last summer.

Sunderland's new goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin

Sunderland's new goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin

McLaughlin, meanwhile, made his Scotland debut in June during a 1-0 defeat to Mexico, recognition for a stellar season with Heart of Midlothian.

He was joined in that side by Dylan McGeouch, another Sunderland addition to break into the Scotland set-up last season.

While some pundits have deemed the move from the Scottish Premiership to League One to be a step down, McLaughlin says his international captain is a perfect example of hw playing for a big club in the third tier can showcase your abilities.

McLaughlin said: “I certainly don’t see moving back to League One, at this club anyway, as a backwards step in any shape or form.

“There were opportunities to go to different clubs in higher divisions but this is a huge football club and so in that respect, I don’t see it as a backward step at all.

“You look at our captain Charlie Mulgrew, he played for Blackburn for League One.

“If a player has the quality it will shine through. But that players in the international scene want to come here shows the stature of the club.

Flanagan admits that he had initially been looking for a Championship move to further his international ambitions but believes that Sunderland is the perfect platform for his career.

He said: “When I sat down with the people who look after me, and my dad plays a massive part in that, we weren’t overly keen on League One for those international reasons. You want to be as high as you can.

“But I don’t think, that when it comes to the teamsheet, and people see Tom Flanagan, Sunderland AFC, I don’t think anyone will bat an eyelid. It’s Sunderland.

“I don’t think it will prohibit me. If I’m playing every week and we’re doing well, then that means people are playing well and I think we will get the [international] recognition.”