Sunderland midfielder explains Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts' importance after Amad's return to Man Utd

Dan Neil discusseses Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts' importance at Sunderland.

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Dan Neil has praised Sunderland teammates Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts for their contributions both on and off the pitch.

Clarke, 22, is the Black Cats’ top scorer with nine Championship goals from the right flank this season, the same number he scored in the league in the entirety of last campaign. On the opposite flank, 26-year-old Roberts, who recently signed a new contract on Wearside, is still searching for his first goal of the campaign but remains a key part of Tony Mowbray’s side.

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“They are our outlets,” explained Neil when asked about Sunderland’s two widemen. “We want to get the ball to them as much as possible, you probably saw that last year when a lot of it went down Pat’s side because we had Amad as well.

“I think this year it’s been shared a lot better and I think Clarkey and Pat have been absolutely excellent this year. The more we can get them on the ball and find ways to get them one v one against full-backs, I back them to get past them everytime. That’s why half the time I don’t support Pat and just get in the box to try and score a goal. They are absolutely brilliant and they are top lads as well.”

Mowbray has also spoken about how Clarke and Roberts are vocal members of the Sunderland squad and are not afraid to voice their opinions. “They are definitely opinionated but they are really nice lads,” Neil added.

“They are like best of mates them two. They are jokers around the place and to be fair the whole squad get on really well together, even the foreign boys who have come in. Sometimes there might be a bit of a divide in the changing room but there isn’t. I think it’s because we are all a similar age and are hungry to play at this level and go up levels. I think that’s why the squad’s harmony is really good.“

Sunderland moved back up to sixth in the Championship following a 3-1 win over Birmingham last time out and are preparing for this weekend’s trip to Plymouth.