Phil Parkinson fires warning to Sunderland's League One promotion rivals over dynamic duo

Phil Parkinson has a warning to Sunderland's League One promotion rivals - dynamic duo Luke O'Nien and George Dobson are only going to get better.

Monday, 4th November 2019, 6:00 am

The pair have been two of the more consistent performers since Parkinson took charge, O'Nien scoring back-to-back diving headers in the two home games won by the new Sunderland boss.

Sunderland made hard work of the 1-0 win over Southend United on Saturday but it was an important victory ahead of a break in league fixtures.

Parkinson has had precious time on the training pitch with his new squad, the schedule relentless with the players having to quickly take his ideas on board given the high frequency of games.

Luke O'Nien celebrates his diving header.

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Parkinson said: “That is what happens when you come in mid-season. Of course we are all looking forward to that week when we can take stock of the situation.

“But I am seeing a lot of good things, I really am, we have some good players and players with desire. George Dobson again was immense, Luke too, we have a real good mentality.

“We want to improve that across the team, and we will do.”

When pressed on the potential of the duo, Parkinson added: “When you have players like that they will only get better, they are relishing the stage, Jordan Willis at the back too.

“He is growing into it. They will get better and it is great to work with young players with energy and they have really got that.”

Sunderland recorded only their second league shutout of the campaign against Southend, an area that Parkinson wants to improve further on.

He added: "There are areas like the clean sheets, in particular, which when we looked this week we were bottom of the table for clean sheets, which is not good enough.

“So, there are areas which we have to find a way at why that has been happening and resolve it.

“We have started to do that in the last two home games, we were very unlucky not to get that against Shrewsbury too, we are making progress and will continue to improve.”