Sunderland AFC news: Charlie Hurley tributes as Mike Dodds delivers team news ahead of Watford match

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What was said at the Academy of Light as Sunderland boss Mike Dodds spoke to the media ahead of the Black Cats’ Championship match against Watford.

Sunderland are preparing for their Championship match against Watford - and interim head coach Mike Dodds held his pre-match press conference today.

The Black Cats were beaten 1-0 by Millwall last weekend and sit 13th in the Championship table with two matches remaining. Watford are just three points behind Sunderland following a goalless draw against Hull last time out, while the Hornets have just appointed Tom Clevery as their permanent head coach.

Here’s what was said at the Academy of Light as Dodds spoke to the media:

Mike Dodds press conference

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Mike Dodds’ pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s match against Watford.

The Black Cats boss is set to speak to the media at around 12:45pm - and we’ll have live updates right here.

Stick around and refresh the page for the latest SAFC news.

Tributes are being paid to Charlie Hurley, who has sadly passed away at the age of 87.

Hurley was named the club’s Player of the Century in 1979 and nicknamed ‘The King.’ He remains one of only ten players to surpass 400 appearances for the Black Cats.

Read more HERE

Ahead of Saturday’s match against Watford, Dennis Cirkin (below) remains an injury doubt after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Dan Neil is set to miss the rest of this season with an ankle issue, while Nazariy Rusyn and Elliot Embleton remain sidelined. Long-term absentees Niall Huggins and Jenson Seelt are also unavailable.

We’ll get a further update from Dodds this afternoon.

Frank Reid

Dodds on Charlie Hurley

“I think from my perspective I don’t think there are any words I can find to show how important he was for this football club.

“He’s a huge legend at this football club. I have been here a short period of time and he was one of the first players that was explained to me in terms of his importance to the football club.

“There are no real words from my perspective which can show how important he was for the football club.”

Dodds on Millwall loss

“When I sat down with the lads I saidI was board watching them play. After the game we spoke what Millwall were all about.

“They have picked up some positive results playing the way they play. We spoke about that all week about not letting them bank up and countering on set-pieces.

“They kind of pained their own picture and we allowed them to do that.”

Dodds on selection dilemmas

“They are all the things you are discussing with the staff. I have always said in this position, you make one decision that comes off and you’re brilliant and you make one decision that doesn’t and you’re not.

“I’ve always said we won’t be experimenting with anything but what we will be doing is putting a team out to win a game of football. It will be looking at how we can hurt Watford and what are their strengths. “

Dodds on Watford and Tom Cleverley

“He clearly deserves it. I’ve watched a lot of their games and they are very well organised. They have definitely changed their style and gone in a very different direction.

“He clearly has an identity of how he wants his team to play. He is a legend there which helps, internally and externally. Ultimately he wouldn’t get that job if he hadn’t had some positive performances and positive results. 

“It’s something at some point that I want to do,  but it’s not something I’m overly changing. I know there are a lot of things I need to improve and be better at. I’m always delighted when a young coach gets an opportunity.”

“Everyone is fine. We have a training session tomorrow and the squad will be what the squad is.”

Dodds on reasons to be positive

“We’ve got the youngest team in the EFL which would suggest we have a lot of players who have a huge amount of upside.

“I do think we have a core of a very good team that we do feel need a little bit of support. You support that core and I think you’re not a million miles away from being a very strong Championship side.

“All those assets, I don’t like calling players assets, they are all under long-term contracts so the club has a huge amount of power, if there is any anxiety about any players leaving, that if anyone did want to come and take our successful players it will have to be at a premium.

“Middle of the table is not where we want to be. There have obviously been some things this season that haven’t gone as well as we want them to be. We will all be reflecting in two weeks time to make sure we have a positive season.”

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