Phil Parkinson was a happy man as he watched his side beat Aston Villa 8-1 in the EFL Trophy. Charlie Wyke (2), Josh Scowen, Max Power, George Dobson, Aiden O'Brien, Danny Graham and Morgan Feeney all found the net against Villa’s youngsters and the result is a great confidence boost going into the first league game of season on Saturday against Bristol Rovers.
Parkinson said: "It was a very professional performance, it was great to get goals - not just from the strikers, but with the midfield players chipping in - so I'm pleased with the night's work. We were always going to use the game to give the lads who needed minutes some more gametime, sprinked with a few of the youngsters. The game was played at a decent pace. Villa have got a young, athletic, team and we had to really work hard to earn the right to play, but I was very pleased with the professionalism shown tonight by the lads.”
“We want selection problems, we want competition in all areas of the pitch," said Parkinson. “Is the squad there yet? No. Is it close to it? Yes, I think it is. I really want tough decisions, and I want myself and Steve [Parkin, assistant manager] to be talking on the way in to work at 6.30am-7am in the morning about what we are going to do because we have got so many options. Certainly tonight the lads have given us plenty to think about. Josh was great tonight. We know that he can take set plays - obviously Chrissy [Maguire] has done it for us too - and they are an important part of the game. Tonight we looked a real threat from set-pieces, and in tight league games a set play can make the difference. Set plays are important at any level of football so it is important that the delivery is right and the movement is right, and it certainly was tonight."
Parkinson also praised the youngsters he picked, adding: "At the start, the game was quite frenetic but Dan [Neil] grew into the game and did well. I just said to him after the match that he needs to learn he doesn't have to run every time he gets the ball, sometimes it is just a case of keeping it simple and waiting for the right moment. I thought Jack [Diamond] stuck to his task particularly well. He is a very good crosser of the ball, he is getting a lot fitter and he is dangerous. He's a player with pace who, when you break, can get from box to box quickly, and the good thing about him is that when he gets in there he can produce quality. And Morgan [Feeney] will be pleased with his contribution. It's always good to see your centre-halves get a goal. He's a good lad, he is mature in the way he plays, I'm pleased with him, and there's more to come from him."
Parkinson is pleased with the six additions to his squad but is still eyeing one more signing. “In terms of the numbers, we’re pretty close now with the signing of Danny,” said Parkinson. “We’re very pleased with the addition of Danny. He’s a good forward player, and he’ll be a good role model as well for our younger players. He’s a good professional. Another addition will be great for us in the next week or so, but we need to make sure it’s the right addition to complement what we’ve already got. We want selection problems, and we want competition in all areas of the pitch. Is the squad there yet? No. Is it close? I think so.”
Sunderland AFC: Matthews, Taylor, Feeney, Xhemajli, Diamond, Power (Dobson 80), Leadbitter, Scowen, Neil (O’Brien 70), Gooch, Wyke (Graham 70)
Subs not used: subs: Burge, Flanagan, Maguire, Hume