The promotion message Craig Gordon sent Sunderland ahead of Hearts friendly

Former Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon says the club are in good hands with head coach Lee Johnson.

Sunday, 18th July 2021, 12:00 pm

The experienced stopper was rested on Saturday afternoon as the Black Cats ran out 2-0 winners in a pre-season friendly at Tynecastle.

Gordon, who made 95 appearances on Wearside, is back with his former boyhood club after a remarkable spell of success at Celtic.

Persistent knee injuries kept him out of the game for two years after his spell at the Stadium of Light, but he has gone on to enjoy a superb second half to his career.

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Former Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon

The 38-year-old is now captain at Tynecastle and in his pre-match programme notes said he hopes the Black Cats quickly return to where they belong.

“It’s another opportunity for us to fine tune our game ahead of the Premiership opener against Celtic later this month,” he said.

"It’s safe to say I’m a tad familiar with today’s visitors, the team I joined from Hearts back in 2007.

“They will provide quality opposition this afternoon as they gear up for a push for promotion to the Championship. We were in the Premier Leagye for the full five years that I was there and it’s disappointing to see them in the third tier now. That being said, I firmly believe they’re in good hands with Lee Johnson, an ex-teammate of mine here at Hearts.

“I really hope they’re successful in their bid to get out of League One this season because Sunderland is a huge club that deserves to be much higher than it is.

“They’re the size of club that that’s capable of back-to-back promotion. They’re a Premier League club in terms of their stadium, facilities and the Academy of Light. Everything they have is set up for the Premier League and I hope they get back there as soon as possible.”

A first-half brace from Aiden McGeady settled the contest, though Hearts struck the woodwork and threatened from set pieces in the second half.

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson said he was pleased with his team’s efforts but praised Sunderland’s attacking quality.

“I thought it was great, I was really pleased with it,” he said.

"You want to win all your pre-season games but for me it’s about continuing to work on the shape we’re trying to play and it’s good sometimes to show them little areas where we need to improve.

“The last few games in the Premier Sports Cup have been brilliant but probably not the challenge we faced today with the way they played in the pockets. There was a lot of stuff to take from it, both attacking and defensively.

“At times we were maybe a little open in the middle areas. We want to be aggressive in our pressing but we need to learn who to attack and when to sit, and which player is going.”

“Aiden is still sharp and has good feet and good movement. He’s done very well for them last season, he came back out of cold storage in January and was excellent and I think he’ll be a big player for them this year.”

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