Phil Parkinson has been previewing our visit to Doncaster Rovers this weekend, knowing that his side must bounce back with a win after a terrible run of consecutive defeats against Mansfield, Fleetwood and MK Dons.

“We’ve shared a lot of the anger and frustration of late, and we want to get back to winning ways this weekend,” Parkinson said. “We weren’t doing a great deal wrong prior to the Emirates FA Cup game which we spoke about last week. We made a few changes for that one, and then we’ve had injuries and international call-ups. It’s about getting back to how we were before the Mansfield game, looking at good elements of our play, and improving on where we’ve been in the last couple of games. In football, you have to quickly pick yourselves back up again – we’re well experienced in doing that – I’ve been a manager a long time, and we have experienced players.”

PP knows Donny won’t be a pushover: “Doncaster have been knocking on the door of the play-offs for a couple of years. Like every team, they need respecting – they have some good players and have picked up some decent results. I stand by what I said after the first lockdown, that the salary cap situation has certainly levelled the playing field in League One and League Two. You’ll find for instance that players who MK Dons signed, we’d have liked ourselves, but we didn’t have the room to accommodate those players. However, we’re still confident in our squad, our depth and quality. Every game is competitive amongst every team – Crewe beat Peterborough 2-0 last week, and they recently won against Doncaster as well. Every result in this league has to be hard-earned.”

The manager also claimed he’s seen nothing of the discontent within the fan base regarding his position as manager following recent performances: “I don’t read social media or what gets said – that’s been the case ever since I’ve been a manager and it’s no different now as manager of Sunderland. But you’d expect there to be a huge degree of disappointment in last week’s defeat. Part of our job is to deal with the reaction to that and get on with our job to put things right. Each game is competitive, and you’ll come unstuck if you’re not at your best. We have to bring our A-game to the table from minute one until the last. All the elements need to be in place which have brought us good results so far this season. Keeping the belief is important. We know going forward we’ve sometimes passed up some gilt-edged chances, and it’s about keeping that confidence and bravery. I’m confident that we can continue to pick up points as we have been, and that future games might not be as tight because rather than just scoring the first goal, we go on to get the second as well. I think it’s been good to have a week to review everything with the squad and the staff. If we’d had a game, we would have embraced that, but equally, having the free week has enabled us to focus on what we need to improve on and also understand that our start to the season has been very good.

“I think the key to releasing momentum is to not let the last two weeks affect us too much. In every season, whether I’ve been a player or a manager, there have always been defeats and days where you get more or less than you deserve. We need a clear head; we need to keep analysing and building on what we’ve done well; improving on what we haven’t done so well. I feel we’ve approached this weekend in the right way, and we’re ready to go.”

Doncaster centre half Joe Wright also chatted about our trip to Yorkshire this weekend, the former Wales youth international has been ever present for Donny this year and had some praise for SAFC front man Charlie Wyke. “Sunderland have been in our league for a couple of years now and we’ve always had close games against them, Both teams have always been there or thereabouts and know what they’re good at – they’ve got some very good players. Charlie Wyke up top for them likes to put himself about, and they have players off him who are really good on the ball. It’s been good to rest up and get a bit of energy back in our bodies. We’ve had a few long journeys recently, which have made it a bit more difficult. I think we had a break on the last international weekend, and we used it to our advantage and worked on different aspects of our game. This time, we’ve rested a bit more and got ourselves ready for the games coming thick and fast again.”