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Parky’s Presser: Here’s EVERYTHING the Sunderland gaffer said ahead of the Leicester U21s game

Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson met with the press today to discuss our injury list, how seriously we’re taking the game against Leicester City’s U21s side, Benji Kimpioka earning his chance and more. Here’s EVERYTHING that he said.

Sunderland Unveil New Manager Phil Parkinson Photo by Sunderland AFC/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

On the win against Southend and the importance...

It was very important to get the three points - it was a game we dominated for large parts of it, and it’s just so important to notch another three points on the board as there’s not a great deal of league football potentially coming up in the next few weeks, so it was a good win for us.

Is it difficult to prepare for a game against an U21s side?

Obviously we don’t know the personnel as we would a normal league game, we have looked at them and are preparing as professionally as we can, but it’s a night for us to have a look at a few of the players who haven’t played, and I think that’s important.

[There are] a couple of different options in the side, so it’s still a learning curve for myself and Steve, getting to know the lads and it’s an opportunity to freshen the side up obviously, and I’m looking forward to seeing that.

On ‘freshening the team up’...

First of all - three games in seven days last week... it’s right to freshen the team up anyway, but like you say there’s a few players who we want to look at and it’s a great opportunity to do that.

Sunderland v Southend United - Sky Bet Leauge One Photo by Steven Hadlow/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

On his thoughts on U21s playing in the EFL Trophy...

I personally think that it’s a good idea to bring Premiership teams’ U21s into the tournament because it’s good for the development of those players. As we all know, U21s football sometimes can not be a true reflection of what you’re gunna meet in league football - League One, Two or the Championship - so it’s good for those clubs, their players to be tested against stronger first team players.

In terms of the competition - obviously it’s down on our priority list. At this stage it can be a low-key tournament, we know that, but as it proved for Sunderland last year it can become a very exciting competition once you progress to the latter rounds.

How seriously are we taking this competition?

Well... we’re taking tomorrow night’s game seriously and, like I said, it’s an opportunity to look at players but I think that everytime a player pulls on a Sunderland shirt it’s a serious game. But, we’ve also got to be honest and say that in the priority list it’s not the top, but we go into every game wanting to win and we’ll see where it takes us.

On our injury list...

Slow progress with Charlie and Goochy, and in particular Lee Burge still not in training with his thigh problem, so we’re just doing everything we can to get them back out on the training ground.

Sheffield United v Sunderland AFC - Carabao Cup Third Round Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

On keeping clean sheets...

If you look at any team at the top of divisions across the country they’ll be top of the clean sheet table as well, and we’ve got to have that ability in the side to see games out and have the discipline in the side and the concentration levels to get those clean sheets. We were able to do that at the weekend - it’s a good boost for us to do that and we’ve got to show the lads and keep working with them in what is required if we are to get clean sheets.

On winning before this run of cup games...

It makes the week so much more enjoyable with those three points, and we can look to use these two cup games like we’ve said to look at different situations with the players we’ve got and make sure that by the time the next batch of league games come, we’ve got players up to speed and we’ve learned more about the squad.

On Luke O’Nien scoring frequently from midfield...

He’s a real threat, he’s a terrific player to have because he’s got great energy levels, fantastic enthusiasm for the game, but most of all he affects the game, and that’s important.

Shrewsbury Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images

Does he enjoy being able to experiment in cup games?

I always enjoy the games anyways, but it’s an exercise for us tomorrow night to play one or two players who 1) haven’t played - a couple like Benji, who we feel deserves an opportunity tomorrow from what we’ve sen in training so far.

So, there’s those opportunities and I’m looking forward to seeing them play and seeing how well we do against a Leicester team who are obviously gunna come and embrace playing at the Stadium of Light I imagine, but yeah, we wanna win it.

Has he stopped to think about the size of the club yet?

Yeah, obviously appreciating the size of the club and the potential - you can see that with the attendance we had at the weekend, and at the moment the lads are really enjoying playing at home.

The atmosphere was excellent in my first two games, and we can talk about them, but the atmosphere has been great and the Lads prior to the game were really relishing playing at home against Southend at the weekend, and that’s good to have.

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