Has Sunderland's eight-goal glut caused a league selection rethink? Phil Parkinson delivers his verdict
Phil Parkinson says his much-changed Sunderland XI have given him ‘plenty to think about’ ahead of the start of the League One campaign.
The Black Cats face Bristol Rovers on Saturday, with Parkinson expected to name a similar side to the one that was knocked out of the Carabao Cup by Hull City on penalties last Saturday.
That defeat was harsh, though, with Parkinson’s side controlling much of the game.
That put his starting XI in a strong position ahead of the visit of Bristol Rovers on Saturday afternoon, but a reshuffled team performed superbly in a 8-1 win over Aston Villa U21s on Tuesday night.
Charlie Wyke, Morgan Feeney, Josh Scowen, and Danny Graham were all on the scoresheet, alongside first-choice midfield pair Max Power and George Dobson.
"We want selection problems, we want competition in all areas of the pitch,” Parkinson said.
“Is the squad there yet?
“No. Is it close? I think so.
“I want tough decisions. I want to be talking with Steve Parkin at half 6 in the morning and thinking about what we want to do because the lads have given us difficult choices to make.
“The lads have given us plenty to think about tonight.”
One player who looked to have particularly pressed his case was Scowen.
The midfielder produced two assists from tremendous corners, with another goal coming from his delivery.
Scowen then produced a second-half goal and a number of attacking contributions in a display that will surely give Parkinson much to ponder ahead of Saturday.
“Josh was great tonight," Parkinson said.
"We know that he can take set-plays.
"Chris [Maguire] has obviously taken set-plays for us, and on Saturday we had a goal disallowed from a corner that should have stood.
"But tonight we looked a real threat, and in tight league games, a set-play can make a huge difference.
"For and against, set-plays are always important at any level of football. It’s important the delivery is right, and it was certainly good into the box tonight."