Lee Johnson has this message for his Sunderland players ahead of seismic afternoon

Lee Johnson has urged his side to be bold as they bid to overturn a two-goal deficit against Lincoln City on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday, 22nd May 2021, 6:00 am

Though missed chances and defensive errors were the primary factors behind Sunderland s ultimate defeat at the LNER Stadium, Johnson was also left frustrated with his team's passive first-half display.

He knows there can be no repeat of that at the Stadium of Light and said his side simply had to show both speed and personality in their performance.

"We've got to bring personality and that comes from believing in yourself, the team, the manager, everybody.

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Sunderland head coach Lee Johnson
Sunderland head coach Lee Johnson

"We've got to play with a tempo without being rushed, simple as that.

"Of course football can be random, so for example on Wednesday, Flanagan makes an excellent tackle, bounces off their player and goes out for a throw in. They get the throw and the next minutes is in our final third.

"Those swings in momentum are really important and particularly in this game and with fans back, that'll only have added bounce.

"We've got to find a balance and play the game better than we did on Wednesday.

"Ironically we were better in the second half where we conceded our two goals.

"That personality on the pitch is the thing that irks and bugs me the most, because I see the players every day on the training ground and work with them," he added.

"So when that personality doesn't come out it's a mentality flaw.

"Of course you have an opposition and they can disrupt you, Lincoln are a very good counter-attacking side and they have a lot of pace, and pace certainly drains you.

"We need to have speed in our team and that doesn't have to be about pace, it can be quick-thinking or the ball speed, or that off-the-mark speed.

"That's the bit that has bugged me the most in my tenure, I want that personality and I want people to be bold.

"They can make mistakes but at times it has been almost the toss of a coin in terms of which side of the individual you're going to get.

"We need to pick a team and a squad for this game that can handle the pressure as best as possible."

Johnson says his side must harness the 10,000 support that will return to the Stadium of Light, and said the onus is 'absolutely' on his side to give those fans reason to believe.

"We've got to go into it charged, there's no doubt about that," Johnson said.

"But we've got to have that controlled aggression, not doing anything silly bcause I've ssen that a lot as well.

"It's a delicate balance but there's effectively nothing to lose now and that's the type of performance we've got to bring.

"A two-nil home loss going into an away game is very difficult.

"This is very difficult but being at home makes it feel like it's more possible," he added.

"We know the supercharged stadium can really have an influence on the game and that's why we're just asking for that commitment from everyone. Myself, the players, the fans.

"Let's be as one and then we've got a lot more chance of being successful."

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