Lee Johnson explains what his short-term coaching appointment will bring to Sunderland's play-off campaign
Lee Johnson has made a short-term appointment to his coaching staff for Sunderland's play-off campaign.
Johnson's assistant head coach Jamie McAllister has been served with a stadium ban for the next two fixtures as a result of the controversial off-field incidents in Sunderland's 3-1 win over Oxford United on Good Friday.
He then has a touchline ban for a further three games beyond that.
Johnson has as a result turned to former Bristol City team-mate Jamie McCombe.
The 38-year-old had a spell as player-coach under the Cowley brothers at Lincoln City, acting briefly as caretaker boss when they left to join Huddersfield Town.
McCombe left his role following the appointment of Michael Appleton at the LNER Stadium.
Johnson says that McCombe will play an important role in set-play preparation, which was a key part of his remit under the Cowley's.
Crucially, it is also a key responsibility usually carried out during games by McAllister.
"It's a short-term appointment for the moment," Johnson explained.
"He's a bit of a restart specialist.
"And the way we work things on the sidelines, I'm overseeing everything obviously but Jamie does a big responsibility because I think a change of voice is important as well.
"A lot of the work that he goes into is the set plays and the adjustments through the games, whether that be substitutions or a threat that appears through the game.
"I wanted to keep things as similar as possible and I knew Jamie's [McCombe] strengths, that set plays were a big part of his role under the Cowley's at Lincoln.
"And it can be good to get that different set of eyes on things as well.
"He's experienced in the play-offs as a player as well. He's a sound human being, very steady, and he knows us well."
McAllister did miss the 1-1 draw with Northampton Town as he served the first game of his six-match suspension, which saw Grant Leadbitter assume a more senior role from the dugout.
Johnson deemed that not be practical moving into the play-offs, however, with the experienced midfielder certain to have an important playing role at some stage in the tie.
He was also reluctant to reshuffle his existing coaching staff, who all have clearly defined roles in both the pre-match preparation and in-game work.
"There were a number of reasons [to bring McCombe in], really," Johnson said.
"One is that it wasn't practical for Grant, who need to focus on the game. There's a lot of detail that goes into, on the set plays it is hours and hours of preparation.
"I played with Jamie so he is someone who I know and trust. We thought about shuffling what we have around but I like the job we have given to Andrew Taylor, who is our eye in the sky essentially.
"Jamie is a bit of a set-piece specialist, and he's played for Lincoln which is interesting.
"He's someone that's got the character that can slot in for us neatly, as well."