Sunderland are in the semi-final of the EFL Pizza Cup after beating MK Dons 3-0. Head Coach, Lee Johnson met the press afterwards and had this to say…
“I thought it was a really good squad win," Johnson said. "It proves the boys are fit and proves we have a depth and can make changes. It shows we have young players coming through who can compete and push the first-team players. If there’s any attitude slips, then no problem, bang they’re in. I thought it was a difficult game. They move the ball frequently, and the concentration element is really important when you’re playing MK Dons. Therefore, there’s a physical fitness, but also a mental fitness that comes with that. That was the bit I was pleased with. Remi has made a fantastic save at 1-0 and that was really important, but apart from that we weren’t really troubled in terms of shots on goal and I thought we had a lot of counters. There were a lot of counter-attacks where we didn’t quite get the final ball or get our eyes up the pitch quick enough to get forward. What I would say is that the lads are putting it in, that’s for sure I think it’s really important we got into the semi-final, however which way."
LJ ON HIS QUADRUPLE SUBSTITUTION
“It’s my job to find solutions to problems. Sometimes, good sides like MK Dons can pose you a problem, and I thought we did look a bit leggy in a little spell. I made an important decision to bring four players on, but they were four players with a mix of experience, youth and legs. It made the balance quite nice. We were quite slick on the counter and could have had more, but at the same time were aware they’re a good side and could cut you open with three or four slick passes."
WEMBLEY IS THE TARGET
“That’s what we’re aiming for," he said. "We want to surprise and delight. We’ve got a job to do in the next round, that’s for sure, and we’ve got a job to do in the league. Our priority is just winning. Winning breeds fantastic habits. There’s a lot of protocol that we’re working on, and the lads have been great. We haven’t always had the best results, but over the period of time, we’ve scored more than we’ve conceded. There’s a consistency to our performances and we managed to get good minutes into the likes of Jones, who I thought looked bright, and Dan Neil, who I thought was excellent. Ollie Younger, Jack Diamond – these are young players and these are our future so we need to make sure we find them the minutes where possible and use the strength in depth to compete on all fronts."
LJ ON ROSS STEWART’S HAMSTRING INJURY.
“We’re being careful with him. While we’ve got good players in the squad, performing well, we don’t want to rush him with a hamstring injury. He’s moving well, but he has to tick all the boxes. Best-case scenario, he will probably train with the squad on Monday but at the same time I will definitely keep the reins on him to make sure he is going to be OK. But I am delighted to bring him in.”
THOUGHTS ON WINDOW OVERALL
"I think we’ve had a really good window. We’ve moved players out and that’s never easy, and we wish them all the very best as Kristjaan [Speakman]. has done in his statements, but it has just been good to refresh the squad with four very good players that we believe will help us and which add a bit more competition and dynamicism to our play. It’s been a good start to the week. I’m really enjoying it at Sunderland. Yes, I’d like a few more wins and we have to keep on improving but I have to say it’s a really good football club and with potential new ownership on the horizon, I believe we can really kick on, whether that be short, medium, or long-term.”