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Early kick-off at Everton for SAFC gives no advantage in relegation battle says head coach Dick Advocaat

Sunderland Head Coach Dick Advocaat says he doesn't believe his team's early kick off at Everton tomorrow gives them any significant advantage in the Premier League relegation battle.

The Black Cats will be without their Captain, John O'Shea, for the trip to Merseyside. He's got a rib injury. But another veteran defender, Wes Brown, is fit to return, while striker Steven Fletcher is also available after injury.

If Sunderland win their lunchtime kick off at Goodison Park they'll move out of the bottom three and put more pressure on their relegation rivals, all of whom kick of at 3pm. The Black Cats go into the game in good spirits, after last weekend's win over Southampton. But Advocaat thinks the early kick off isn't a big issue.

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Sunderland manager: Johnson can play 'if he feels OK'

Adam Johnson was charged at Peterlee police station in County Durham Credit: PA

Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat says it is up to Adam Johnson if he is in the squad against Stoke on Saturday, after the winger was charged with sex offences.

Advocaat said: "He still has to come in, but in principle if he feels okay, then he will be a member of the squad."

Yesterday Adam Johnson was charged with three offences of sexual activity with a child under 16 and one of grooming.

Adam Johnson can continue to play for Sunderland

Adam Johnson

Sunderland winger Adam Johnson appears set to remain available to play for the club after being charged with three offences of sexual activity with a child under 16 and one of grooming.

A spokesperson for Sunderland AFC said: "Following yesterday's statement from Durham Constabulary, the club recognises that the formal legal process must take its course and whilst our position remains unchanged, we will keep the matter under review.

"The club will not be making any further comment."

Mr Johnson, of Castle Eden in County Durham, was arrested on Monday March 2 and Sunderland AFC initially suspended him pending the outcome of the investigation, but this was lifted on March 18.

The 27-year-old was born in Sunderland and began his career at Middlesbrough FC before moving to Manchester City and then Sunderland for £10m in 2012.

He has played for the club three times since his initial arrest in March.

Mr Johnson will appear at Peterlee Magistrates' Court on the morning of May 20.

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Police praise fans after 'peaceful' derby

Police have praised the majority of North East football fans after what they say was 'a passionate and peaceful derby' on Easter Sunday.

There were only 25 arrests out of the near 50,000 people who watched the game at the Stadium of Light.

Chief Supt Steve Neill said: "The vast majority of fans were great today; they represented themselves and their clubs impeccably and enjoyed the Wear Tyne derby for the great occasion that it is."

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