Phil Parkinson was happy enough to see his side beat Harrogate Town 1-0 at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon, with the only goal coming from Will Grigg. Parkinson said: "It was a hard-fought win for us. The first 20-25 minutes we were slack on the ball, we gave it away too cheaply, and Harrogate came out of the traps quickly and pressed us. But we gradually got better, started switching the play, making the pitch bigger when we were in possession, and we got into some good positions without really threatening until we wore them down in the second half. You have to give Harrogate some credit, they look like a team who had come here on the back of a promotion. It was a tough game but it's always good to notch another win, whether it's pre-season or not. We weren't at our best, but we I was pleased that we stuck at it, wore them down, and got a goal. Sometimes you have to keep on doing the right things and wait for that moment of quality to come. And there were moments of real quality and both Will and Dan have done that right through pre-season. Dan is a real asset and his weight of pass is excellent, and then Griggy when he was in on goal he looked sharp. Will is fitter than he has been in a long time, he's got an extra yard of pace, and it was a great finish. I was pleased with both of their contributions, and with Aiden O'Brien as well - he came on and gave us a lift, and was very unlucky not to get his goal when it came back off the post."
He was also keen to send the message out that places are up for grabs ahead of the season starting: "I think there was a lot for us to learn today, both individually and collectively," said Parkinson. "Is the team selected in my mind? No, because I think there are still places up for grabs and we would like to add a couple of players into that as well. There's a lot of thinking to do and we have to make sure that everybody is up to speed for when the season gets up and running. We treated this game as though it was the start of the season in terms of substitutions - I know we made four, but we weren't making subs to give people minutes, it was to win the game and the lads that we brought on towards the end of the game showed freshness and quality."
The gaffer also gave an injury update on Jordan Willis and midfielder Josh Scowen, who both picked up knocks. "Jordan just felt his groin tighten up when he made a clearance, so we didn't want to take any risks with him," said Parkinson. "And Josh was just involved in a heavy tackle and he has a bruised foot and ankle, and it doesn't look too bad at the moment."
Phil Parkinson also confirmed that talks with Kosovo international defender Arbenit Xhemajli continue: "Arbenit is back in the country and the talks concerning him are ongoing. Hopefully we can add one or two more players to what we have got because, as every manager in the country is saying, strength in numbers is going to be very important this season. We have one or two other things we are looking at, and we are going to have a chat as a staff to see where we go with a couple of options. We know what we need. We know where the question marks are on the chart on the office wall - the spaces we want to fill - and we are working towards that. We'll try [to get more players in before next weekend], but obviously the transfer window is open for a while yet. We want to get the balance right between being strong enough at the start of the season, but also leave one or two gaps free in case players become available later in the window. It's a case of making sure we still have resources free under the salary cap, and it's also about spaces in the squad because it is now a numbers game, too."
Sunderland AFC: Burge, Willis (McLaughlin 45), Wright, Flanagan, O’Nien, Hume, Scowen (Dobson 74), Power, Maguire (O’Brien 67), Gooch (Neil 78), Wyke (Grigg 67).
Substitutes: Matthews, Feeney, Leadbitter, Diamond, Taylor