SUNDERLAND new-boy Ahmed Al-Muhammadi will get fans “off their feet” according to Black Cats assistant boss Eric Black.
The 22-year-old has joined the Stadium of Light outfit on a season-long loan from Cairo club ENPPI with a reputation as the ‘Egyptian Beckham’.
He made his first appearance for Sunderland in Saturday’s 1-0 pre-season friendly win at Darlington.
Coming on as a first-half substitute for Lee Cattermole – who aggravated a groin problem – Al-Muhammadi made an instant impact, enlivening a dour affair by bursting to the right-hand byline, although he could not apply a telling cross. Nonetheless, Black – standing in for Steve Bruce, taking part in a charity golf event in Portugal in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation – was impressed by the Egyptian international’s ‘debut’.
“I was really encouraged by Ahmed, I thought he did really well when he came on,” said Black, who confirmed that defender Nyron Nosworthy is in negotiations with Sheffield United over a second loan spell at Bramall Lane.
“Considering he can’t speak a word of English and he’s only been training with us for a week or two, I thought that he deserved enormous credit. He
came on and lit the place up a little bit. With the long grass unfortunately you couldn’t see the best of him because running with the ball was difficult. But you’d have to be well encouraged by what we saw.
“He’s very disciplined, he’s prepared to stay and be patient in wide areas. If we can get the ball to him then you can see people getting off their feet. He’s very direct and as we can see he can deliver the ball.”
Though Bruce sees him as a left-back, Kieran Richardson was deployed in a central midfield role at the Northern Echo Arena, and Black was eager to stress the ex-Manchester United star’s versatility.
“I know the manager sees Kieran in several positions and certainly left-back is an area that he not only played last season but did very well in,” Black said.
“It’s early on and we’re not looking too much into positions. Kieran is a very versatile player and can play in any area, as he showed on Saturday.
“He can play up front, he can play in midfield in the Premier League and he can play at left-back, so we don’t have a worry about where we might play him at the moment.”
Sunderland do have slight concerns over Cattermole and Andy Reid, who missed Saturday’s game with an Achilles problem, though both are expected to be fit for the start of the season.
Black was upbeat about the goalkeeping situation despite the broken arm suffered by Scotland international Craig Gordon (pictured right).
“Craig’s fine, I spoke to him on Saturday morning and he’s as positive as I think he can possibly be under the circumstances,” Black said.
“Obviously it’s a blow to him but he was quite buoyant when I spoke to him, he’s comfortable with what the surgeon’s done. He now has an idea in his head how he’s going to progress and that’s obviously going to be a few weeks.
“It’s hard to say how long he’ll be out, I would think the minimum is eight to 10 weeks but I’m not qualified medically to give that diagnosis. But it’s a broken bone so there’ll be certain things that have to be adhered to.
“It’s an ongoing discussion as to what we’ll do goalkeeper-wise, we’ll just have to asses that over the next few days.
“The two young lads have both looked pretty decent in training. It’s a big step going into the Premier League but we’ll assess that over the next three or four days and a decision will be made then.”