Lee Johnson explains his surprise Aiden McGeady and Tom Flanagan selection calls in crucial Sunderland win

Lee Johnson says Aiden McGeady and Tom Flanagan are ready to step back into the Sunderland starting XI as soon as required.

Sunday, 21st November 2021, 6:00 am

Both have been mainstays of Johnson's league XI so far this season, but were surprisingly dropped to the bench at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon.

McGeady was a second-half substitute and scored a stoppage-time penalty in the 2-0 win over Ipswich Town, which moved Johnson's side back into the play-off places and within striking distance of the automatic promotion places.

The Sunderland head coach praised the 35-year-old-'s contribution from the bench, while also opening up on his decision to drop Flanagan to the bench.

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Aiden McGeady celebrates his stoppage-time penalty at the Stadium of Light

Flanagan has been a regular so far this season and helped Northern Ireland keep a clean sheet against Italy earlier this week, but was replaced by Bailey Wright for what was ultimately a crucial win against Paul Cook's side.

"Aiden has had a bit of a stop-start season so far, he's had three injuries," Johnson said.

"He's an absolute warrior and always wants to play, and sometimes he's not always 100% and won't tell you.

"That's the whole question, isn't it, is it braver to say or not to say?

"In the game against Rotherham he was playing with a grade 1B hamstring injury, which to be fair he didn't realise, he just thought it was tight.

"We've had to build him over the last few weeks from there, to get it right.

"He's looked sharp this week and could have started, but the others this week were just physically ahead of him and I knew that when you bring him on, he's got that quality. Straight away he threads a ball through for Carl Winchester that almost leads to a goal for us.

"With [Tom] Flanagan, that was just tactical based on all the information I had [ahead of the game]," he added.

"He's been very, very good for us this season.

"The last three or four games he's lost a bit of confidence for us on the ball but we know that he can jump straight back in for us at any point."

Sunderland travel to Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday night, who were beaten 2-1 by Cheltenham Town on Saturday afternoon and currently sit 21st in the League One table.

A message from the Football Clubs Editor

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Sunderland AFC coverage 365 days a year.

This depth of coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to, please consider taking out a subscription to our new sports-only package here.

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor