City boys are super: Kevin Phillips

16/04/2011 - Barclays Premier League - Birmingham City vs. Sunderland - Kevin Phillips of Birmingham shouts out in disbelief - Photo: Simon Stacpoole / Offside.
16/04/2011 - Barclays Premier League - Birmingham City vs. Sunderland - Kevin Phillips of Birmingham shouts out in disbelief - Photo: Simon Stacpoole / Offside.
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KEVIN PHILLIPS says Sunderland have made two super signings in his former Birmingham City team-mates Craig Gardner and Seb Larsson.

And the Black Cats legend reckons fans are going to enjoy the contributions of both players at the Stadium of Light next season.

“They’re great signings,” he told the Echo. “They’ve both got so much to offer already and one of the best things about them is that they’re still young lads and only going to get better in the seasons ahead.

“I enjoyed working with them at Birmingham City and I think that Sunderland fans will really enjoy what they bring to a team.”

Goal king Phillips, who spent six years at Sunderland from 1997-2003, scoring 130 goals, knows what it takes to become a hero on Wearside and says that Gardner and Larsson will become favourites.

“They’re the sort of players that Sunderland fans love,” he said.

“They’re strong characters who give their all in games and don’t give up.

“Seb is a striker’s dream because he’s keen to get the ball into the box at every opportunity.

“He’s not one to try too hard to get the perfect delivery and strikers relish that because you never like to see the ball hanging around on the wings for too long if you’re a forward.

“Seb understands that.

“He knows you’d far rather have half-a-dozen half-chances than wait all afternoon for the winger whose trying to get it perfect.

“What that means is that forwards know you’re going to get a steady stream of balls into the box in a game and not only is his delivery good but he has the knack of getting the ball in front of the strikers regularly so that when you do get the ball you’re bearing down on goal.”

With 24-year-old Craig Gardner, Phillips says Sunderland have the goalscoring midfielder the club has lacked for years.

“He was Birmingham’s top scorer last season and that was no fluke,” said the striker. “Sometimes a midfielder or defender can have a purple patch season where they score plenty of goals but it turns out it’s just that one season.

“That’s not going to be the case with Craig. He’s the real deal when it comes to scoring goals from the middle of the park.

“I used to train with him and every day he’d put one or two great finishes away.

“He likes to get into the box, he’ll go past the strikers and he’s got a great shot on him with either foot.

“He scored 10 last season and I reckon that he’ll get goals regularly all the way through his career.” Phillips, like his former team-mates, is also on the move this summer after the end of his contract with the Blues.

He is currently in talks with two Championship clubs, although Coventry City, linked with him in last week’s Sunday papers, is not one of them.

H Gardner is pictured wearing Sunderland’s new away kit, which is now available.

The change kit is now on sale from all three club stores at the Stadium of Light, Debenhams in Sunderland and The Galleries, Washington.

It is also available online at or by calling the mail order line 0871 911 1973.