In the spring, two of Sunderland’s talented young players both headed to Norway in a bid to play first-team football. Michael Ledger was first. The defender, who had previously played for Viking in the Scandinavian nation, joined Notodden FK on a permanent deal in March. It came less than a year after he was linked with a move to Bundesliga club Mainz.
Next up was Josh Robson. He joined the same side on loan in April. The right-back went on to join them permanently in July when he was released by The Black Cats.
Both players never quite made it into the Sunderland first-team picture and would have been hoping for a positive season in Norway. After years of watching the first-team at Sunderland fight relegation, it would have been a welcome relief.
Unfortunately, that has not been the case for the pair, who never got the chance to work with new Sunderland boss Jack Ross.
There are just two games left in the Norwegian second division and rather than pushing for promotion, Notodden are fighting relegation.
They currently sit third from bottom in the division. They play the team below them, Florø, on Sunday. Defeat would leave the teams level on points going into the final weekend. Anything but, and Notodden are safe from automatic relegation but will have a fight on to catch Asane and avoid the relegation play-off. Not much has changed for the youngsters since leaving the Stadium of Light.
Ledger and Robson have been regulars throughout the season and will hope to line up in the back-line for these crucial games. After watching Sunderland suffer in recent years, they will hope to not be part of a similar campaign this season.