Phil Parkinson's key message to his Sunderland players ahead of his first game in charge

Phil Parkinson has urged his players to be ready for the unique requirements of League One as he tries to launch a promotion push at Wycombe Wanderers.
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He has identified making his side better off the ball as a key way he can find the extra 10-15% in their performance to get promoted.

Allied to that is a need to cope with the challenges of playing on the road in the third tier, and the mentality he believes that requires.

“We've to expect that [cup final atmosphere],” he said.

New Sunderland manager Phil ParkinsonNew Sunderland manager Phil Parkinson
New Sunderland manager Phil Parkinson
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“It's no good feeling sorry for ourselves, saying 'oh my god, they've raised their game'.

“We've got some players of Championship ability, and we've got to go up a level to counteract that [lift in opposition performance].

“We've got to be prepared to win in all kinds of different environments, and that is key about this division.

“In the Championship, most of the stadiums are excellent, the pitches are fantastic.

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“At this level, there are certain grounds where it is a different environment and you've got to be ready for it, not getting on the coach and thinking, 'that's caught us by surprise',” he added.

“You've got to be ready and you've got to win all types of games as well.

“You've got to be able to win when you don't play well, so you've got to have the requirements in your team where you might not be at your best with the ball, but you're rock solid without it.

“That's the mentality we're looking to instill.”

Last year’s clash at Adams Park was an acrimonious one, with three red cards shown in a 1-1 draw.

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Parkinson says he knows exactly what to expect and will ensure his players do, too.

“It is an example of what I'm speaking about,” he said.

“Wycombe will play a certain way, it's a tight ground, they'll start both halves very, very quick.

“They'll look to press us in areas and we've got to be ready for that intensity.

“That is really, really key.

“I know exactly what to expect and I've got to make sure the players clearly understand that by the time the referee blows the whistle come 3 o'clock.”