Why Kevin Phillips has been in contact with Lee Johnson and Kristjaan Speakman and how Sunderland could benefit from his South Shields appointment

Kevin Phillips’ appointment at South Shields should help the club forge greater links with Sunderland - and the former striker has already been in contact with Lee Johnson.

Thursday, 20th January 2022, 4:45 pm

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Phillips spent six years on Wearside as a player and became a Black Cats legend, scoring 130 goals in 235 appearances during a six-year spell.

The 48-year-old has publically made his managerial aspirations known in recent years, yet this will be his first opportunity in the dugout.

Phillips has also worked with Sunderland’s Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman at Birmingham, who has consistently spoken about sending younger players out on loan to receive regular game time.

Kevin Phillips has been appointed manager of South Shields.

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Now that Phillips is in charge, South Shields may be a more likely destination for some of the Black Cats’ young prospects.

“I think that moving forward the link is definitely there with players,” Phillips told the Echo. “If Sunderland sign a player and feel he needs to go out on loan, can we look at that and facilitate that.

“I’m not too full up on it yet but I believe there are chats going on at the beginning of next month which I will sit in on.

“I know Kristjaan Speakman well because I have worked with him at Birmingham so there is conversation going on.

“It can only benefit the club of course and at some point we might get the opportunity to go along there and use their facilities at some point.

“There can only be pluses from it and it’s great to have that link at such a great football club.”

Phillips also has a good relationship with Johnson, who was in touch after the South Shields appointment.

“It was just a general chat in terms of the link and wishing me good luck,” said Phillips.

“It’s tough but you have to be prepared for the ups and downs, which I am.

“It was generally just wishing me well and as I say looking forward to working closely together, not so much for the rest of this season but more as we get towards the end of this season and the start of pre-season about players et cetera.”

Phillips has spent a lot of time in the North East in recent months, meaning there have been opportunities to go and watch Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

He will now be tasked with winning promotion from the Northern Premier League - Premier Division - the seventh tier of English football.

"I have been to about six or seven home games this year, typical Sunderland up and down,” he added.

“They are heading in the right direction and sitting healthy in the league, a bit like us.

“There is pressure on, there is pressure on Lee, more pressure than obviously myself, but we are both sitting the same in the league. We’re sitting third, they’re sitting third and there is still virtually half the season to go.

“There is pressure on both people but it’s exciting pressure for me and hopefully one which I won’t lose any more sleep over.”

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