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Everything Sunderland boss Alex Neil said about Alex Pritchard's injury, Thorben Hoffmann's contract and Cambridge United test

Sunderland will face Cambridge United at the Stadium of Light this weekend – and Black Cats boss Alex Neil held pre-match press conference today.

Friday, 22nd April 2022, 10:12 am

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Neil’s side have three matches remaining in League One and, while their play-off hopes remain in their own hands, there is little margin for error.

Sunderland were held to a goalless draw at Plymouth last time out and have now gone 10 games unbeaten in League One.

The Black Cats will have to improve their attacking output, though, after recording just two shots on target at Home Park.

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

RECAP: Alex Neil press conference

Last updated: Friday, 22 April, 2022, 10:10

  • Sunderland will host Cambridge United at the Stadium of Light on Saturday (3pm kick-off).
  • The Black Cats are seventh in the League One table but have a game in hand on some of their play-off rivals.
  • Cambridge are 12th in the table and were beaten 2-0 by Charlton last time out.
  • Sunderland boss Alex Neil will held his pre-match press conference earlier today.

That brings us to the end of the broadcast 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, as well as build-up to Saturday’s match over on the Sunderland AFC section of the Echo website.

Neil on Thorben Hoffmann comments

“I’m completely unaware, honestly I don’t know anything about it.

“I don’t pick players based on their contracts, I don’t know anything about any of their contracts.

“Honestly I have no interest in their contracts, what they earn, what they have got is up to them.

“I pick the team on merit and based on what I see so that’s the answer to that.”

Neil on having a game in hand

“It’s only a positive if we win that game, so having that game at this point in time doesn’t really mean anything because we need to turn that game into points.

“We know the job we have to do and it starts with this game on Saturday, that’s the most crucial one because it’s the next one and then we’ll see where we stand after that.”

“Alex is certainly a lot closer than what he has been, he just missed out on the last game so I’d imagine he will feature.

“We have a couple of bumps and bruises so we just need to assess today between now and tomorrow.”

Pritchard’s injury difficult to manage?

“Not really because the initial injury, the last injury, he had two different injuries, it wasn’t a recurrence it was the same injury.

“We did try and protect Al by taking him off early, like we did we Broady, but unfortunately he had hurt it before that.

“I think what has probably been most frustrating is that off memory, I think that Broady and Alex have only started one game together since I’ve been here which is frustrating.

“Naturally you want as many of your game changers on the pitch at the same time as you can.

“To have two guys that have contributed so heavily this season not available at the same time certainly isn’t helpful when you are trying to win matches.”

“I think the fact they rested players for the last game leading into this one shows you the significance of this one.

“I know they will say they are rotating their squad but it will be interesting to see if they did that at any other time.

“It is going to be a difficult game, they have a good target for us and pace on the break so it will be a difficult match for us.

“They will want to come here and want to try and win the game.

“I think they will look at it as a good opportunity to show what they can do, they have beaten some good teams along the way.

“They beat Wigan recently and beat Ipswich recently so I’m sure they’ll be coming here to try and do the same.”

Neil on a big game this weekend

“It’s a big game, they are all big games, we have been talking about this now for the last seven games.

“We understand the importance of it but equally it’s not been any more important than the other ones because of those points that we have picked up.

“Equally after this game the next one is going to be vitally important as well.

“It’s been the case since the day I walked in the door really.

Little margin for error: “There hasn’t been any margin for error, if you look at the teams about us, particularly Sheffield Wednesday and Wycombe they have been on a really good run as well.

“We have had to win quite a lot of games basically just to be in the race so we haven’t had any margin for error so far.”

Here’s what the table looks like heading into this weekend’s matches:

Games to look out for this weekend:

Rotherham vs Oxford

Sunderland vs Cambridge

Wigan vs Plymouth

Wycombe vs Sheffield Wednesday

MK Dons vs Morecambe

What to expect from today’s press conference

Alex Pritchard has missed Sunderland’s last three matches with a minor calf issue, yet Neil said on Monday he is ‘very, very hopeful’ the playmaker will be able to return against Cambridge.

Callum Doyle, Thorben Hoffmann and Leon Dajaku have been recovering from illness and are unlikely to return this weekend.

There are also doubts about whether Aiden McGeady will play any part in the un-in. Neil expected to know more having assessed whether the winger was able to step up his workload at the Academy this week.

We’ll get a further injury update when the Sunderland boss speaks to the media this morning.

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Alex Neil’s pre-match press conference.

There are just three league games remaining this season, hopefully more if Sunderland can reach the play-offs, starting with Saturday’s meeting with Cambridge at the Stadium of Light.

Neil is set to meet the media at 9am today, and we’ll have live updates from the Academy of Light.

Stick around and refresh the page for live updates.

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