Kevin Phillips issues South Shields fitness demands as Sunderland legend confirms summer overhaul

It could be a busy summer at South Shields as Kevin Phillips confirms there will be an overhaul of his squad.

By Joe Buck
Sunday, 1st May 2022, 9:00 am
South Shields manager Kevin Phillips
South Shields manager Kevin Phillips

Defeat to Warrington Town prematurely ended their season on Tuesday night as Shields fell at the first play-off hurdle.

Their end of season form saw the side falter at the worst possible point of the campaign as they failed to make good on their pre-season ambitions of promotion to the National League North.

Phillips, who replaced Graeme Fenton in January, has admitted that he failed to deliver on what the club wanted from his appointment, but wants to use Tuesday night’s defeat as motivation ahead of a crucial few months that could see a big squad overhaul:

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“Massive motivation for me. I’ve come in at a stage of the season where we were near the top of the league, we were second at the time, and we managed to get top, but we just couldn’t maintain it.” Phillips said.

“I think those four away games on the bounce really hurt us. We’ve struggled away from home and that needs to be addressed - and it will be.

“Experiences like this, you have to learn from it, I have to learn from it - and I will.

“I’ll say it now, there will be players in that dressing room that won’t be here next year, there will be players that will be [here next season] and there will be players added.

“It needs an overhaul. There will be new players to come in and there will be some tough decisions to make and I’m not afraid to do it, that’s what I have been brought here for.

“Hopefully I’ll have the backing of Geoff [Thompson] who has been incredible this season, we’re all desperate to get promoted, but I’ve got big decisions to make this summer and I’m not afraid to make them.”

It is clear that there will be a fresh crop of signings coming to the club this summer, however, Phillips also highlighted one key area that he believes the team can improve on ahead of next campaign:

“One thing I have assured them is that pre-season is going to be hard.” Phillips said.

“One of the things I have felt since I came in is that they could be fitter in my eyes, especially being full-time.

“The only time I think we have rolled over a side in the second-half is Nantwich when we were two-nil down.

“Since then, I’ve never really seen us roll over teams in the last 20 minutes and to be a full-time team and training every day, for me that’s not acceptable.

“I’ve told them be ready to come back in pre-season and work your socks off and we will be the fittest team next season, 100% so when it comes to the last 25 or 30 minutes, we will be stronger than anyone in this division.

“If you don’t want to be part of that, don’t stay at the football club. If you want to be part of it, it will be enjoyable, but it’ll be tough.”