Sunderland team news: Alex Neil's revealing goalkeeping stance

Alex Neil says he hopes that Anthony Patterson will take confidence from his display against Wigan Athletic.

The 21-year-old has started every game since Neil's arrival and though Bayern Munich loanee Thorben Hoffmann has recently returned to the squad after a period of illness, the new head coach has kept Patterson in the side.

That call was rewarded at the DW Stadium, the youngster producing his most mature performance in goal to date.

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There was an excellent save from Callum Lang midway through the second half, but equally important was management of the game and his box as Sunderland defended a crucial lead.

Sunderland youngster Anthony Patterson impressed against Wigan AthleticSunderland youngster Anthony Patterson impressed against Wigan Athletic
Sunderland youngster Anthony Patterson impressed against Wigan Athletic

Neil was asked about his selection decision, and whether it was based on Patterson's form and training performances, or more a reflection of Hoffmann's recovery.

"Patterson is in the team because he deserves to be in the team," Neil said.

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"It's not got any relevance to anybody else [or their situation].

"In the last game [against Burton] he probably made one kick that he shouldn't have done but he's still a youngster, still learning.

"But I thought his management of the game against Wigan was excellent.

"I thought he made saves when we needed him, I thought he came and collected a few crosses when we needed him.

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"He should take huge confidence from that and hopefully he can continue with that."

Neil identified Patterson's save from Lang as a crucial moment in the game, having been otherwise impressed with how his side defended against a powerful Wigan Athletic side.

"We denied them a lot," Neil said.

"They had one moment I think when we made the pitch long, Bailey played the ball down the channel and we weren’t set up behind it, they slipped [Lang] in and Patto made a really good save.

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“That changed the dynamic of the game because in recent weeks, that’s damaged us.

“Equally we were probably more of a threat because we started deeper and were breaking into space, rather than being higher and coming onto the ball.

“All these little bits and bobs give me something to think about ahead of the games coming up.”