Phil Parkinson picks out under-fire Sunderland midfielder for praise

Phil Parkinson hailed George Dobson’s return to form, and said Dan Neil played his best 45 minutes for Sunderland against Fleetwood.

Wednesday, 11th November 2020, 11:22 am
Sunderland midfielder George Dobson
Sunderland midfielder George Dobson

The pair controlled the midfield as the Black Cats dominated the first half at Highbury Stadium.

Sunderland should have turned their dominance into more goals, and it proved costly when three defensive injuries in the second half allowed Fleetwood back into the game.

It was a disappointing end to the Papa John’s Trophy group stages, but Parkinson was keen to focus on the positives from that first half.

It has been a difficult campaign for Dobson, who was sent off against Bristol Rovers on the opening day of the season and lost his place to Grant Leadbitter.

He returned for the 2-2 with Rochdale, but was left out of the last two matchday squads.

Tuesday night represented a return to form, the 22-year-old a dominant presence in the centre of the pitch early on.

Those defensive injuries led to Dobson taking up an unfamiliar centre-back role for the final half hour, but he made some crucial interceptions and challenges as the tide of the game turned.

“It obviously takes the gloss off the night for those lads that we’ve picked up a couple of injuries, but we’ll not know how bad they are until the morning,” Parkinson said.

"But in terms of some of the play in the first half, some of the football, I thought Dan Neil and George Dobson were excellent in terms of their quality.

“It was probably Dan’s best 45 for us – he showed what he’s all about and I’m so pleased for him – and George as well.

“He’s had a difficult start to the season in terms of getting sent off, and his season hadn’t quite got going, but that was the best 45 minutes for George as well. I’m so pleased for him. I think people forget with George that last year, he was terrific for us.

“Sometimes, players lose a bit of form – it can be a bit of confidence or lacking a bit of match sharpness. I saw some good signs in George tonight.”