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Everything Alex Neil said about Nathan Broadhead and Barry Bannan injuries ahead of huge Sunderland vs Sheffield Wednesday League One play-off clash

Sunderland are preparing for two huge matches against Sheffield Wednesday in the League One play-offs – and Black Cats boss Alex Neil held his pre-match press conferences earlier today.

Thursday, 5th May 2022, 10:14 am

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The first leg will be played at the Stadium of Light on Friday, before the return fixture at Hillsborough on Monday.

Both sides go into the match with injury concerns after Sunderland’s Nathan Broadhead and Wednesday’s Barry Bannan were forced off last weekend.

The pair have been crucial for their respective sides this campaign and would be sorely missed.

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Here’s what was said at the Academy of Light:

RECAP: Alex Neil press conference

Last updated: Thursday, 05 May, 2022, 10:13

  • Sunderland will face Sheffield Wednesday in the first leg of their League One play-off semi-final on Friday.
  • Over 40,000 fans will attend Friday’s match at the Stadium of Light.
  • Black Cats boss Alex Neil held his pre-match press conference earlier today.
  • Both sides have injury concerns after Nathan Broadhead and Barry Bannan were forced off last weekend.

That brings us to the end of the TV section of the press conference - but Neil has also spoken to the written press including our SAFC writer Phil Smith.

You can find more build-up to Friday’s match over on the SAFC section of the Sunderland Echo website.

See you soon.

Neil on expectations

“I don’t think about it if I’m honest.

“I took the job knowing the expectancy, I think that was one of the key elements that attracted me to come here was the fact that I like working under pressure and with people expecting you to deliver.

“I think it’s a good environment and brings the best out of you if you like that situation which I do. I think the players are used to it now.

“When I walked in the building I remember my first two home games vividly because even a stray pass you could hear your groans, and I was thinking oh ok.

“Since then we have picked up form, the lads have performed better, we’ve scored goals, we’ve won games and I think we’ve naturally got the crowd onside.

“I think the crowd are desperate for the lads to do well and have given them a really good backing, they come in their droves, and I think the lads have responded to that.

“I don’t think now that is going to be any surprise for us.”

“We’ll make a late call on Nathan.”

“I’m sure Sheffield Wednesday will be cagey and make out like Barry Bannan might not be fit… he’ll be fit.”

Neil on previous games against Sheffield Wednesday this season

“The away game there certainly wasn’t the worst performance of the season.

“I have watched both games, I have probably seen them about eight or nine times this season because we play a similar shape to them so we do a lot of prep work on the games that they have played.

“The 3-0 win at their place for me wasn’t a 3-0 game, we had good moments in the game but didn’t capitalise on them.

“The home game, although it was a really good performance, it wasn’t a 5-0 for me either.

“I was actually at that game live just by chance because I was watching games.

“A lot has changed since then, we are playing with a different shape, different personnel and they certainly strengthened in the January transfer window.

“If you look at the backline they had that day for the 5-0, they ended up with Dunckly going off, Palmer as the middle centre-back and Marvin Johnson who is a left winger playing left centre-back.”

Neil on Ross Stewart’s game time

“I think that Saturday was a rare occasion where I managed to take him off. I just wanted to make sure we didn’t risk him for the final 20 minutes.

“He’s in uncharted territory for him in terms of what he’s done, I think the maximum he played in Scotland was 38 games at a different level to what this looks like.

“I think expectancy is a factor at this club and also different tests.

“All the hard work culminates in these games so if you can’t get yourself up for these games then there is a problem.

“In terms of freshness, determination and willingness to be ready to go I don’t have an issue with Ross or with any other player.”

Neil on big crowds expected

“Listen I’m probably going to offend a few teams here but they are probably the two best supported teams in the league.

“They have both been in the Championship and in the Premier League not that long ago.

“It’s going to be a tough game and it’s going to be a big atmosphere. Hopefully the players can handle that and do themselves justice.”

Neil on the mood at Sunderland

“I’m feeling good and I think the players are feeling good.

“We have managed to secure a play-off place which was our objective 15 games ago.

“The biggest thing for me is that I have been a small part of that and I feel refreshed.

“The players are in a good space. I think there have been a lot of changes since the start of the season, we’ve added a few players in January and players haven’t done the full 56 matches so the boys are in a good space.”

Alex Neil’s press conference is coming up...

Team news from the Wednesday end

Wednesday are also sweating over the fitness of captain Barry Bannan, who was forced off in their 4-1 win over Portsmouth last weekend.

Bannan appeared to be moving fine when he walked around the Hillsborough pitch to applaud fans after the match, yet he wasn’t spotted when the club posted training photos of the squad on Wednesday.

The Owls could also welcome back defender Harlee Dean who has been sidelined with a calf issue.

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