Dan Neil has started this season in excellent form at Sunderland, with Lee Johnson handing the 19-year-old regular first team action and his faith was repaid with the midfielder’s first goal for the club against Accrington Stanley on Saturday.
Neil described the elation of the moment when speaking to the Sunderland Echo.
He said: “It’s something I’ve dreamed of for a long time and I’ve had to wait a little bit but I’m so glad that it went in and it wasn’t a bad one for my first goal.
“Scoring my first goal like that I was a bit shocked. Just the feeling and adrenaline rush of scoring in front of 30,000 people is something I’ve dreamed of doing. I was just shocked it went in, especially with my left peg.”
It was a rocket to open Neil’s account for the Black Cats giving Sunderland the lead after a quarter of an hour. Filling in at left back when needed the 19-year-old has become a key player from the off this season and is building a strong relationship with Luke O’Nien in central midfield.
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Sunderland have built a three point cushion inside the top two with a game in hand on every side in the play-off places, the mood is high at the Stadium of Light at the moment for good reason.
Lee Johnson has shown a desire to blood some younger players in the squad this summer and that can be seen in their transfer dealings.
Going into their fourth season in the third tier, Johnson is the club’s third manager since their drop to League One and has been given the tools to assemble a squad in his own image.
With the spending sprees of the likes of Ipswich Town and Wigan Athletic taking the headlines, Sunderland have been shrewdly plugging away in the background to a great deal of success so far this season.
Making Charlie Wyke’s departure go almost unnoticed and shrinking their creative reliance on Aiden McGeady.