'It’s difficult not to hear the noise': Alex Pritchard opens up on criticism, Sunderland's poor form and his injury setback
Alex Pritchard says it’s hard to ignore recent criticism but insists the Sunderland squad are working really hard to try and reverse their poor form.
After heavy defeats at Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday in League One, the Black Cats were knocked out of the FA Cup by Mansfield and failed to beat League Two side Bradford in the Papa John’s Trophy.
Pritchard, who has been struggling with a neck injury, played 90 minutes against Bradford as the team drew 1-1 to top their group, before losing an irrelevant penalty shootout.
The 28-year-old joined Sunderland from Huddersfield in the summer and admits recent performances haven’t been good enough.
“I think it’s difficult not to hear the noise,” said Pritchard when asked about recent criticism after the Bradford game.
“I think everyone understands as footballers and it doesn’t help massively but we can understand it and I can certainly understand it from a fans’ perspective.
“Look, they have been incredible since I’ve been here and it’s been amazing but it’s been frustrating.
“Obviously they are frustrated and we’re frustrated and we have got to keep cool heads, keep working hard, and we are working really hard at the training ground.
“In games we left it all out on the pitch to try and get the win but it didn’t happen.”
After missing most of pre-season when he tested positive for Covid-19, Pritchard has found himself in and out of the side since moving to Wearside.
That has made it difficult for the playmaker to have such a significant impact, yet he’s still been trying to raise standards in the dressing room.
“I think at the moment it’s difficult for me to say much because of the injuries and stuff,” replied Pritchard when asked about giving advice to younger players.
“Today I said my piece at half-time and I think in a way it kind of gave them a kick up the backside, not just for everyone else but for me as well because the first half wasn’t good enough on a personal note.
“I think in the second half we came out a lot better and the manager addressed it really well at half-time as well.”
On a personal level, Pritchard says he’s ready to kick on following his neck injury and recent setbacks, with time to prepare for Sunderland's league meeting with Ipswich on November 20.
“It was a weird one, I think I slipped over at Crewe and think I’ve just jared it,” said Pritchard when asked about his neck issue.
“Obviously it’s a lot better now but it’s been a difficult couple of weeks with it.
“It’s nice to get back on the pitch and play 90 minutes.
“It was a really sore jar to the neck, sort of whiplash but that’s over now.
“It was good for me to get 90 minutes and we have another little break.
“It’s not really a break for me, I need to keep going on my fitness levels but just to get 90 minutes is good.”