Improved fitness a key factor behind Sunderland's positive festive form
Phil Parkinson has highlighted the improving fitness of his Sunderland squad as a key factor in the recent upturn in results.
Having gone nine games without a win and pressure intensifying on Parkinson and the players, the festive period has seen a turnaround on the pitch.
Sunderland picked up eight points from 12 over the festive period and are now unbeaten in five games, victory over Lincoln City comfortable with the Black Cats running out 3-1 winners.
What was most impressive on Saturday was the relentless nature of Sunderland's energetic display in the first half, especially given Parkinson had made only one change and has settled on a core of players featuring regularly over Christmas.
Parkinson said: “The lads fitness levels are going up a level all the time, I think you saw that on Saturday.
“Charlie got off his sick bed, he had a throat infection over the last couple of days but he was never in doubt that he wanted to put himself out there.
“Goochy, after being out so long, there was an element of risk playing him having been out so long but he is a difficult player to leave out.”
Parkinson described it as a 'big win' for the squad with Sunderland climbing to ninth and now just a point off the play-off places with a game in hand, leaders Wycombe Wanderers the visitors to Wearside this weekend.
Parkinson said: “It was a big win for us, after coming from Fleetwood with just a point.
“It was important we came away with all three and I felt first half we blew them away.
“Some of the football we played was excellent, made the pitch big in possession, took the sting out of the game.
“The pressing, we press quickly together, got the second goal from that. We would have loved to build on that second half.
“Credit to them they are a decent side, they changed it and went 4-4-2 direct up to the big two, and gave us a few problems.
“I thought we came through that period and in the end it was a comfortable victory for us.”