The brilliant moment Tony Mowbray completely failed to downplay Dan Neil's Sunderland form

Tony Mowbray understood the premise of the question and he was in total agreement, but all the same he was having absolutely none of it.

At least not initially, anyway.

In his post-match press conference the Sunderland head coach was asked to reflect on another stellar performance from Dan Neil, who having settled into life in the Championship is now beginning to regularly catch the eye.

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Against an in-form Middlesbrough midfield he had been dominant, a crucial part of an impressive 2-0 win.

Sunderland midfielder Dan Neil

Mowbray has been working closely with Neil since his arrival and knows that his form will be drawing attention from elsewhere.

"Listen I'm not going to sit here and build Dan Neil up so you lot can go and get him sold to a Premier League club," Mowbray joked.

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"I was very aware of him at Blackburn Rovers, he was on our radar as the best player in League One in our opinion.

"Now that I'm here and working with him I'm going to keep him quiet, just let him do what he does and keep developing."

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Mowbray couldn't resist some fulsome praise for his midfielder, though.

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And his attempts to not create a headline went slightly array when he promptly compared him to a Champions League winner.

"He's a wonderful kid, he looks you in the eye and asks you questions," Mowbray continued.

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"When you shout and moan at him for not doing this or that, he doesn't throw a strop, he comes to see the clips so that he can understand what you mean. He's a very, very talented young guy who wants to get better. He's got all the attributes to be a top midfielder player, Michael Carrick will follow me in soon and he isn't too far away from being that type of midfielder - who is elegant with that bit of quality.

"He's growing into becoming a good footballer, but please don't go making big headlines, we want to keep him quiet."

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Tongue may well have been firmly in cheek but Mowbray's message was obvious: This is a youngster heading for the top if he keeps this up.