Lee Johnson pays tribute to Sunderland's makeshift defence and gives Bailey Wright injury update
Lee Johnson paid tribute to his makeshift defence after they helped Sunderland secure a place in the Papa John’s Trophy final at Wembley.
The Black Cats had to battle through a challenging second half with just one defender in their natural position after Bailey Wright was forced off at the interval.
Conor McLaughlin came on to slot in at right centre-half, while Luke O’Nien produced a spirited display in a very unfamiliar role as the left centre-half in a back four.
Johnson revealed after the game that Wright had been struggling coming into the game, but with five centre-halves unavailable had battled through the first half.
Both he and Josh Scowen came off as a result of ‘muscle tightness’ and will be assessed ahead of the trip to Burton Albion this weekend.
“He wasn't 100% coming into the game,” Johnson said.
“I think one of the biggest signs of characters was how we managed to get through with square pegs in round holes in a number of places.
“It did give us the opportunity to recycle and we had confidence on the ball but at times it was obviously unnatural for two or three.
“Massive credit to the lads at centre-half and Max Power back to right-back as well.
“With Bailey and Josh Scowen, they felt some muscle tightness.
“So we had to think of both, both the cup and the league.”
Sunderland will have Dion Sanderson available again on Saturday, while Tom Flanagan and youngster Oliver Younger are thought to be nearing a return.