'Need more like that': Sunderland boss on Alex Pritchard's stunning goal and what his squad must do next

Lee Johnson says he is hoping for more of the same from Alex Pritchard after the attacking midfielder scored his first goal for the club on Tuesday night.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 8:00 am

Pritchard gave Sunderland the lead at Shrewsbury Town with a superb strike as he cut in from the left flank, where he regularly caused problems for Steve Cotterill's side.

The 28-year-old was eventually withdrawn 15 minutes from the end as Sunderland were ultimately held to a disappointing 1-1 draw.

Pritchard had a limited pre-season due to COVID-19 and Johnson says the late arrival of a number of his summer signings is having an impact.

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Alex Pritchard puts Sunderland ahead at Shrewsbury Town

The head coach says he know needs to have a 'laser focus' on keeping his key players fit and sharp.

"It was a really good finish," Johnson said.

"He'd had a couple of sighters earlier and there's no doubt he's got that quality in him.

"Our challenge is to make sure that our top five or six players, we have that laser focus on keeping them fit and keeping them at it.

"You've got to remember, and I think this is catching up on us a bit now, how late we recruited.

"That's not a criticism of anybody and it's not an excuse, but when you recruit late you end up with players that haven't had a pre-season.

"You rely on the players who did but you want these players on the pitch at their best as early as possible.

"Alex did have Championship offers but there was that mutual belief, him in us and us in him.

"I need more moments like that, we need more moments like that.

"It's what I expect for a player of Alex Pritchard's quality."

The Black Cats looked to be heading for three crucial points when David Davis was sent off moments before half time, but Dan Udoh's superb strike just after the hour mark left Johnson's side chasing a winner.

They laboured in response, with Johnson critical of the quality his players showed in the wide areas.

The head coach said his side must quickly learn the lessons from their poor display, and challenged them to respond with three points at Cambridge United on Saturday.

"We're five points off second with two games in hand, so it's not crazy gloom and doom," Johnson said.

"What we've got to do is follow that draw up with a win on Saturday, and then seven points from three games potentially looks like an alright return.

"We've got to learn our lessons and we've got to learn them quick.

"You cannot give teams in this division a leg up and that's what we've done tonight.

"We want to maximise every opportunity and today we haven't done that.

"We're disappointed but we have got a point away from home.

"It's a tough game on Saturday, and the reality is it's a slog [for us] at the moment.

"The players have got to be refreshed, get their energy back and go and put in a good performance."

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