Lee Burge reveals thoughts on Thorben Hoffmann’s arrival, Sunderland's new style and David Preece's role in QPR cup win
Lee Burge says there is a healthy relationship between himself and Thorben Hoffmann as they challenge for the first-choice goalkeeper position at Sunderland.
Burge made 41 league appearances for the Black Cats last season but hasn’t featured in League One since Hoffmann’s arrival on loan from Bayern Munich this summer.
Instead Burge has featured in the cup competitions, and was excellent as Sunderland reached the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup by beating QPR on penalties.
Burge, 28, made multiple saves in normal time before keeping out Charlie Austin’s spot kick in the shootout.
Sunderland have strength in depth in the goalkeeping department, meaning 21-year-old Anthony Patterson was sent out on loan to National League club Notts County.
Yet Burge says he’s embracing the competition as he continues to try and improve his game.
“Unfortunately I had a bit of an injury at the start of the season and Patto did well when he came in,” Burge told the Echo when asked about Hoffmann’s arrival and his reduced game time.
“Thorben has been brilliant since he’s come in so it’s just all competition and at the end of the day we just have to work each other really hard and that’s what we have been doing.
“I have to take things off his game and he can hopefully take stuff off my game and that’s how you learn and get better. It’s enjoyable.”
Under Lee Johnson there has been more emphasis for the team to play out from the back, starting with the goalkeeper.
It’s a style which comes with an element of risk, yet Burge believes Sunderland have the right players to make it work.
“When you get it right it’s an enjoyable style of play and obviously it looks good, it feels good, it gives you a lot of confidence when you get it right,” he added.
“We just have to keep practising and taking everything you get from the senior players as well as the coaching staff and we have some brilliant people around this club.
“There is a lot more emphasis on it, that’s the way and we have the players to do that as well.
“Everyone buys into it and is moving for each other. Sometimes it can get where the players don’t buy into it and it doesn’t go quite right.
“You can tell with this group of players that everyone is into it and working really hard on every part of the game.”
Despite his penalty heroics at QPR, Burge was quick to point out it’s a team game.
While he was the one who saved Austin’s spot kick, the keeper also credited Hoffmann and goalkeeping coach David Preece for their input.
"Obviously a lot of research goes into it,” replied Burge when asked about his penalty save. “Preecy and Thorben have been going through it a lot over the last few days.
“We have been going through them and it’s credit to them and the work that they do as well as what we do.
“We just have to keep doing those things all the time and if you keep learning it’s obviously going to pay off.”