Marrs' taste of first-team life

by Ashley Houghton

Young defender eager for more after senior cameo.

Sunderland defender Liam Marrs says he will look back on the 2012-13 season with great pride as the Cramlington-born has experienced life with the Black Cats’ first team for the first time since joining the club as a 13-year-old.

And the youngster, who played 20 times for the development squad in 2012-13, says his first call-up to the first-team squad for the 1-0 victory over Everton in April came as a complete surprise.

 “We had a friendly game against Burnley on the Wednesday and the first team obviously had their game on the Saturday so I didn’t really think about it,” Marrs said.

“We had recovery on Thursday and then we were meant to be off on the Friday but Bally [Kevin Ball] told us to come in because we were with the first team on Friday.

“I still didn’t think anything about it, I just thought I’d be training with them because they needed some numbers, and then after training the gaffer said ‘report to the hotel tonight’,” he continued.

“I couldn’t believe it. I told my mum and dad and they were delighted, they told more people than me, I just kept it quiet really – I told my close mates because they’ve followed me along the way.”

And Marrs, who has skippered the under-21 side on multiple occasions during the campaign just gone, says he was relaxed despite the magnitude of the game against the Toffees.

Stephane Sessegnon scored the only goal of Paolo Di Canio’s first home game in charge and the result made the day even sweeter for the 20-year-old.

“I was over the moon [to be in the squad]; it was a good win as well and with it being the gaffer’s first home game it was a packed stadium. Tt was unbelievable, I’ve never experienced anything like that before,” Marrs added.

“I was quite relaxed, I felt OK. When you get out onto the pitch to warm up and you clap the fans, you just get butterflies – it’s hard to explain really, I just thought ‘I want to be here every week, this is where I want to be’.”

Marrs, who was part of the under-21 side that suffered a semi-final defeat to Leicester City in the Hong Kong Sevens tournament recently, says the pace of training with the first team is a different experience and one he would like to become more familiar with in pre-season.

 “I need to push on now – it’s difficult to get starts at the moment but hopefully I’ll try and push for next season,” Marrs explained.

“Training is a bit quicker because there is a lot of experience in the first team – they know what it’s like to play in the Barclays Premier League.”