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Sunderland fans want to know – can Mike Dodds do it against Donny?

Mike Dodds & co. are set to take to the dugout for Sunderland tomorrow afternoon. Fans don’t know much about their coaching credentials, so we take a look to see what we can expect...

Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Unless the situation changes dramatically, and things suddenly fall into place for a new head coach, it looks like Mike Dodds will be overseeing the game against Doncaster Rovers this weekend.

He will be backed up by fellow coaches Phil Jevons, Michael Proctor and David Preece, but whilst the latter two are well known to Sunderland fans alread, Dodds and Jevons are still relatively new faces.

Dodds moved to Sunderland in September with an impressive CV.

Appointed by SAFC Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman, the pair had worked together at Birmingham City and were both credited with playing a part in the club’s youth set up being granted Elite Player Performance Plan Category One status.

In addition, the pair were both thought to have had a huge influence in the development of players like Nathan Redmond, Demarai Gray and Jude Bellingham.

The man of the moment, Mike Dodds

Speaking on the My Personal Football Coach MPFC podcast last year, Dodds admitted that his own dreams of becoming a professional footballer whilst growing up were short-lived, but that he had started undertaking his coaching badges and had acquired his UEFA B License whilst still at college.

He worked voluntarily at Coventry City between the ages of 18 and 20 before then moving to Birmingham in his early 20s.

There, despite initially only starting in part time role, he worked his way up to the position of Academy Manager having spent over a decade with the club across several different phases and age groups plus a short stint at first team level following the departure of manager Pep Clotet.

At the Academy of Light was initially given the title of Head of Individual Player Development, focusing on bespoke programmes for Sunderland U18s and U23s, but after just a few weeks he stepped up temporarily to cover the U23s as a whole in the wake of Elliott Dickman leaving for Newcastle United.

The arrangement was soon extended until the end of the season, but on Wednesday it was confirmed that following Lee Johnson’s departure Dodds would lead first team preparations for the time being.

Sunderland v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light
Phil Jevons with the now departed Jamie McAllister and Lee Johnson
Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Joining him will be existing first team coach Phil Jevons, who also arrived on Wearside in the same month.

Liverpool-born, Jevons was a pro for nearly 20 years and was a teammate of Johnson at Yeovil Town and Bristol City. He began coaching youth sides at his first club Everton whilst still playing and by the time he joined Sunderland in September had worked his way up to coaching the U18s.

As well as switching to senior coaching at the Academy of Light he was also tasked with helping some of the club’s youth prospects to transition into the first team.

Preece and Proctor meanwhile, the other two members team, are both local lads that came up through the ranks before returning to the club once they’d hung up their boots.

Goalkeeping Coach Preece originally came in and helped out during preseason before it was made into a permanent arrangement, and had previously held roles at Manchester City, Barnsley and Lincoln City as well as Ostersunds in Sweden.

In addition to that, he has earned himself a reputation as an astute pundit, focussing on the technicalities of goalkeeping.

David Preece at work on the training ground, although he has since shaved the hair off!

Of the four, Proctor is the longest-serving Sunderland coach by some distance.

He headed up East Durham College’s football academy for a while and has been working with different age groups at the Academy of Light for several years now.

Having been with Dickman last season working with the U23s he has since been assisting Dodds, and the pair have already been on the touchline at the Stadium of Light this campaign during some Papa John’s Trophy games.

Given the background of some members of the group and their close working knowledge of the current crop of youth products at Sunderland, one or two U23s might fancy their chances of squeezing their way onto the bench on Saturday.

It is hard to take much from recent results at that level seeing as the side has been shorn of its more experienced players of late with an eye already on next season, and it remains very much about development where the result is not always the be-all and end-all.

Very few first teamers have been involved at Eppleton of late either, so Dodds may therefore be relying on Jevons and Preece for some guidance.

At least an out-of-form Doncaster Rovers represent a decent chance for the caretakers to register a win, although something similar was said when Johnson first took charge against Wigan Athletic 14 months ago and as we all know, you can forget forecasting anything about Sunderland with any certainty.

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