Former Sunderland striker Kevin Phillips says the club need to retain the likes of midfielder Dan Neil if they have aspirations of getting promotion this season.
The 19-year-old has emerged on the scene at the Stadium of Light in recent years, and has now become a regular feature for the Black Cats in their push for promotion at the start of the coming campaign.
Neil has made 22 appearances in all competitions for the club in total, and scored a stunning goal in their EFL Trophy win over Lincoln earlier this week.
Now it seems that Phillips believes that Neil has a big part to play for the Black Cats in the future, making it essential that they retain his services long-term.
Giving his verdict on Neil’s goal against Lincoln, and his all-round importance to Lee Johnson’s side, the ex-England international told Football Insider: “Ah wow, what a goal it was. He’s not afraid to have a pop. It was great to see. He’s got so much confidence in his game. I actually chatted to him on Friday night. He seemed a very humble young kid.
“There is not doubt about it, he is an exciting young talent. I love watching him player. He plays with such a freedom and air of confidence.
“If Sunderland are serious about getting promoted they need to hold onto young, talented player like him. He’s shining in that Sunderland shirt this season. He has got such an abundance of quality.
“I just hope that he has the right people around him because he was a very nice kid.”
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As things stand, there are still two years remaining on Neil’s contract with Sunderland, securing his future at The Stadium of Light until the end of the 2022/23 season.
You do feel as though Phillips has a point with that he is saying about the importance of Sunderland keeping Neil here.
The midfielder has made a more than useful contribution to the Black Cats’ impressive start to the season, and they are unlikely to want to lose someone with his ability to influence a game.
Indeed, at such an early stage of his career, Neil has plenty of time to improve as well, so keeping him at Sunderland could secure long-term asset for the club.
This therefore, could prove to be a major statement of intent, and popular move, if Sunderland are to keep hold of the midfielder beyond his current contract at the Stadium of Light.