The boss did hand out debuts on the opening day of the season but one man who didn’t get one was Ellis Simms who arrived at the Stadium of Light on loan just two days prior to the start of the new season.
The 21-year-old was on the bench in the game and Neil has admitted that he was tempted to send the forward on.
However, speaking to Sunderland Echo, the manager revealed why he chose against doing so as he said: “I was tempted towards the end to put Ellis Simms up top with Ross Stewart to turn the ball a bit more, but I was just worried about that central area because we were starting to lose hold of that part of the pitch.
“Hence why I put Luke O’Nien in there, to try and have a bit of physicality and energy.
“At that point, we were winning the game and I didn’t feel there was a need to take any more risks.”
Sunderland head to Ashton Gate this weekend and Simms will no doubt be hoping he can have the chance to make his debut.
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You can understand why Neil opted against using Simms this weekend given the fact that Sunderland were starting to be put under pressure by Coventry in the second half of the game.
As the boss points out, at the time his side were winning so there wasn’t a need to take any risks and even though they conceded to end up drawing the game, had the midfield been left as it was they may have run the risk of conceding further.
There is no doubt that Neil feels Simms can add to his side this season and should he take his chance when given it, we will no doubt see many minutes come his way this year.