Sunderland boss has this ten-game verdict and explains Josh Scowen injury concern
Phil Parkinson says his side are in a strong position at the ten-game mark of the League One season.
Sunderland are sixth in League One after their 2-1 win over Ipswich Town on Tuesday night, but are just one point behind Paul Lambert’s side and have played one game less.
Crucially, the Black Cats have come through a challenging fixture schedule and are tracking at above the two-points-per-game ratio seen as crucial for achieving promotion.
Parkinson’s side have played four of the top seven as it stands, and lost one of those to Kenny Jackett’s Portsmouth.
“We've taken 21 points from ten games,” Parkinson said.
“We usually say ten games is a decent benchmark of where we're going to be and we've got to be pleased with that.
“A lot of the other teams have played another game as we had one postponed for the international break.
“The points return is good, we can always get better and we will endeavour to do that.
“We'll look at what we could have done better against [Ipswich], what we can improve on, and hopefully get through in the FA Cup at the weekend.
“When the fixtures came out, I think a lot of people at the club thought, 'that's a tough old start'.
“We had some tough games against some of the top teams,” he added.
“We've come through it with one defeat to Portsmouth.
“Away at Charlton, anyone who watched that game will know that we should have won that.
“We've got to be pleased with the return.
“Ipswich are a very good team, who have had a lot of home games that you would expect them to win, and they've done that, which you've got to do.
“We've had a tough run and I'm delighted to get through it with 21 points.”
Parkinson also confirmed that Josh Scowen was taken off at half-time due to concerns over a potential concussion.
Scowen was struck in the face by a free-kick midway through the first half, and though he did play on until the interval, Sunderland’s doctor recomended that he be replaced at the interval.
The midfielder will be assessed for concussion and if confirmed, will rest in line with protocols.
“It was a strange one, Josh is so key to our pressing,” Parkinson said.
“He took that ball to the face, the doctor went on to look at him and we thought he was alright.
“After about five minutes the doctor said that he was concerned about him because of a couple of things.
“Straight away at half time, the doctor said we have to get him off.
“He's been excellent for us, he’s a really good player, but I thought Max came on and did very well.”
Sunderland’s next two fixtures are against Mansfield Town and Fleetwood Town in the FA Cup and the EFL Trophy respectively, games in which Scowen may well have been rested anyway.
Parkinson has already said that he will look to use the fixtures to give gametime to some talented academy players, including Jack Diamond.