Sunderland boss reacts to Bailey Wright's debut and explains 'very tough' Alim Ozturk call

Phil Parkinson hailed an ‘excellent’ debut for Bailey Wright, but admitted the decision to leave Alim Ozturk out of the squad had been a ‘very tough one’.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 30th January 2020, 12:46 pm

Wright signed on loan from Bristol City last week and was an unused substitute in the 0-0 draw with Doncaster Rovers.

Parkinson decided to hand him his full debut in woeful conditions at Prenton Park, and the Australian impressed as the Black Cats kept their fourth clean sheet in as many matches.

The 1-0 win saw Sunderland climb to fifth in the League One table, five points off the top but with a game-in-hand on both Rotherham United and Wycombe Wanderers in the automatic promotion spots.

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Bailey Wright made an encouraging start to his Sunderland career at Prenton Park

Wright defended well throughout a tight contest, and even came close to scoring just minutes into the game.

The 27-year-old looked certain to score when Joel Lynch headed a Chris Maguire free kick back across goal, but headed over the bar from yards out.

He fared far better at the other end, making one particularly crucial challenge in his own box as Kieron Morris prepared to shoot just moments after Charlie Wyke had scored the opener.

“It was a great chance [early on],” Parkinson said.

“It was a very good debut, very good.

“He's a good reader of the game, was very solid, an excellent performance.

“It was tough on Alim, very tough, but my gut was that it was the right night for Bailey to come into the team.”

Ozturk has been a key part of Sunderland’s improved form of late, and Parkinson spoke at length with the defender on the touchline prior to the game.

Parkinson said he took the news professionally and insists he will be back in the fold soon.

“It is a squad game,” he said.

“You look at Flanno, scored a goal recently, got a bit of injury and found himself having lost his place when in home games particularly he has been excellent for us.

“We're going to need everybody.

“You don't expect anybody to be happy but you've got to respond in the right way and Alim took it like the professional he is.

“He's going to be needed, probably sooner rather than later.”