Lee Johnson reacts to Dennis Cirkin's unexpected Sunderland debut and gives Corry Evans update

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Lee Johnson said Dennis Cirkin showed his quality after the new signing made an unexpected full debut at Milton Keynes on Saturday.

Johnson had been minded to keep Dan Neil at left back for the second league game of the campaign, mindful of the need to allow Cirkin to adjust to his new surroundings.

The 19-year-old had also tested positive for COVID-19 last month, another factor in Johnson's initial thinking.

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But with Luke O'Nien falling ill in the build up to the game, Neil had to move into midfield and Cirkin was called upon to make his senior debut.

Corry Evans vs MK Dons.Corry Evans vs MK Dons.
Corry Evans vs MK Dons.

The youngster lasted 72 minutes before replaced by Bailey Wright.

Johnson said the initial signs from the left back, who Sunderland invested a fee in to sign from Spurs, were very encouraging.

"He wasn't going to start but of course that changed with Luke's illness," Johnson said.

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"I knew as well that it would be a game that he would be OK in, because obviously with the wing-back system they play he doesn't have a direct opponent.

"That meant he had a little bit more space in possession. But I think you saw his quality, I think he'd tell you he's probably at 75/80%, so we've got to find that balance.

"In a perfect world you want to get your business done early, but as I've said throughout it's easy to sign average players. For good players, you've got to wait.

"For a senior debut, I thought it was outstanding.

"He's physical, he's got the biggest quads I've ever seen for a 19-year-old.

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"He can make those maurading runs forwards and he had a couple of nice connections with Aiden McGeady."

Johnson will monitor a minor injury picked up by Corry Evans in the 2-1 win, with the experienced midfielder replaced midway through the second half.

Evans has made a significant impression in the early stages of his spell on Wearside, and has been named team captain by Johnson.

"He's had a bit of tightness just on the edge of his hamstring/groin," he said.

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"It was just enough for him to come off, so we'll have to see."

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