LJ PRE GILLINGHAM



Lee Johnson met the press after training on Friday to preview the visit of Gillingham this weekend…


GILLINGHAM’S STYLE

“We know enough about Gillingham to know this is a very difficult game, and we have to be on top form to get the result. You always look at the managers. Steve Evans is a very successful one at this level. His teams are always combative and competitive, and we have to earn the right [to win] – they’re in good form, won convincingly in midweek, and they pressed extremely high – a slight tweak to their gameplan. I like their midfield – the likes of Callum Slattery and Kyle Dempsey – as well as their forward threat with the likes of Vadaine Oliver up top. At the back, they have Robbie Cundy, a player I know very well as we signed him for Bristol City.”


OUR DEFENCE

“We have strong personalities in the dressing room, players who are in their prime and solid, and if you manage to get 19 or 20 clean sheets, it gives you a really good chance of promotion. We’re trying to improve all areas, including our defending. On Tuesday night, Ipswich went down to 10 men but that’s not always easy to play against. Just to keep the clean sheet is a positive sign. Bailey is really well, in a good place but was mildly concussed. We have to conform to the protocol with that, and we’ll take him through a series of tests – Saturday could come too soon for him, but we’ll monitor him as we go. Dion has come on well for us – he’s a player with real high talent and high potential.”


OVERALL OBJECTIVES

“Whilst you’re Sunderland in League One, [promotion] is the goal. Of course, sometimes that can create an attitude towards looking to the outcome rather than concentrating on the process. We have no divine right for anything in this league, we have to earn every little bit of any success.”


LJ ON DION SANDERSON.

"I think Dion has been good. I think since I've walked through the door he's been a good trainer, a good personality. He's a consistent individual with his outlook on life which I like. Every time he's been called upon he's done well. We've played him in a number of positions bless him. We've put him at left-back at Northampton, right-back and then his natural position is centre-half Dion is a player of real high potential and high talent. The concentration that he or anyone gets as they grow in terms of age and status and gravitas at the level - looks like it's coming and that's really good for him. "