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Everything Alex Neil said about Sunderland's play-off hopes, Dennis Cirkin's injury and Morecambe test

Sunderland head into the final day of the League One season knowing a win at Morecambe would secure their place in the play-offs.

Friday, 29th April 2022, 10:11 am

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Black Cats boss Alex Neil held his pre-match press conference this morning ahead of the trip to the Mazuma Stadium.

Sunderland came from behind to score a late equaliser at Rotherham on Tuesday and have now won seven of their last 11 matches, drawing the other four.

The game at Morecambe also carries extra significance as the Shrimps are just two points above the relegation zone.

Alex Neil press conference.

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RECAP: Alex Neil press conference

Last updated: Friday, 29 April, 2022, 10:25

  • Sunderland face Morecambe on the final day of the season this weekend.
  • A win would see the Black Cats secure a play-off place in League One.
  • Sunderland boss Alex Neil will held his pre-match press conference earlier today.
  • Morecambe are just two points above the relegation zone going into the final round of matches.

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.

We’ll have more from the Black Cats boss over on the Sunderland SAFC section of the Echo website.

More on Cirkin and Winchester injuries

Having the right balance

“I think the spine of any team is vitally important and I think we have naturally at this moment in time a relatively young squad.

“I think balance is crucial, I don’t think having younger players is a bad thing but I think if you have too many in one team, that knowhow and understanding, professionalism and leadership qualities that you need with experienced players, sometimes that can be lacking.

“What I think you players do give you is they give you a natural exuberance, lack of fear, lack of what’s to come type think.

“We just need to make sure we get the balance right and the balance is crucial.”

Neil on Aiden McGeady

“He’s made good progress, he’s been on the grass, he’s training with the lads.

“We’ll take a view on that.”

Neil on Dennis Cirkin injury

“He’s not far away Dennis now.

“He’s been pain free now which is good so we just need to step up his preparations now.”

“They have a lot to play for and I’m sure they’ll come up with a game plan to try and get something from the game.

“I think they have done extremely well, it’s not so long ago that Morecambe were in League Two regularly and fighting to stay in League Two

“Derek was there before and then left and has come back.

“I think the job he did taking them up was remarkable and if they do manage to stay in the league, which at this moment in time looks likely because they have more points than teams around them, that will be a great achievement for them.”

Will you be looking at other scores?

“Normally the answer to that question would most certainly be no, however leading from half-time onwards I think it would be naive of me not to have a look at where things stand.

“Certainly depending on our game, I think that’s what ultimately is going to dictate everything in terms of what our result looks like.

“If we are winning the game I don’t really need to be concerned about what is happening elsewhere.”

In Sunderland’s hands

“It’s positive because we’ve done it ourselves. It’s not as if it’s been handed to us.

“The sequence of results that had to happen for us to end up in this sort of predicament were extremely rare.

“We have done what we have needed to do to make sure everything is still in our hands and that’s the way we want it.”

“I think that’s crucial.

“We haven’t lost an away game since I’ve been here which is pleasing.

“Equally we need to make sure we go and perform and having the backing of the fans is important for the players in particular in those difficult moments which will happen in any game.

“They will come in their numbers as usual and be vocal, and it’ll be a good atmosphere.”

“It will be a tough game for different reasons. Morecambe have got their own agenda.

“You could argue there are other games in the division that are equally important for other teams. We just need to try and get the job done.

“We will just approach it as any other game and it’s a game we will go to try and win, that is what we’ve done in the other games we have played.

“There is not really anything different. What is different is the magnitude of what’s behind it in what we can achieve or what we won’t achieve if we don’t get it done properly.”

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