Sunderland manager Phil Parkinson says that he has not rushed to introduce the club’s January signings into the side, because of the need to adapt to a new setup, and the performances of the other members of his squad.
One of those who made the move to the Stadium of Light during the January transfer window was attacker Antoine Semenyo, who has joined on loan from Bristol City for the rest of the season.
Semenyo has so far made just two substitute appearances for the Black Cats so far, and explaining why the 20-year-old has not been a more regular feature yet, Parkinson told the Sunderland Echo: “When you come into a club and there’s a lot of games, and we’re playing a different system, it’s not like we’re playing a 4-4-2 where everyone knows their roles, there’s a period where they’ve got to understand their role in the system.
“We’ve had time to do that with Ant, Portsmouth was difficult when he came on for a few reasons but you saw in his involvement on Tuesday night that he’s getting more understanding of the expectations of him in that position.”
Indeed, it seems those who follow Sunderland on a regular basis will be seeing plenty more of Semenyo in the coming weeks, as Parkinson added: “He’s got pace but he’s got footballing intelligence as well.
I enjoyed watching him when he came on and I enjoy watching him in training as well.
“We had a session on Wednesday with the group who haven’t played so much and the quality was excellent. Antoine has got a good attitude as well and that was another one of the reasons we liked him.”
Another January signing who has had a quiet start to life at Sunderland is Josh Scowen, with the midfielder making just one substitute appearance since his arrival from QPR.
That is something that appears to have been influenced by the form of a number of the Black Cats other options in the centre of the park, as Parkinson claimed: “It’s difficult because these players have come in with the intention of playing but the lads [in the team] then go up another level. That’s what competition does and that’s why you need good quality players waiting for their moment.
“Look at George Dobson for instance, the last two games he has been right at the top of this game. If you’re George and Max [Power], you’re looking over your shoulder and there’s Josh Scowen, who everyone knows is a very, very good player, it forces you to raise your game. That’s what we need.”
I can see where Parkinson is coming from here.
With the stakes as high as they for Sunderland in the race for promotion at the minute, they are not going to want to miss out as a result of an error caused by one of their new players not being on the same wavelength as their new teammates with regards to the system they are playing.
Indeed, when some of his longer-serving players are playing as well as he believes they are, it is also going to be hard for Parkinson to take them out of the side to make room for new arrivals, which may not exactly help morale within the side.
It will therefore be interesting to see how Parkinson manages this going forward, since the likes of Semenyo and Scowen certainly have the potential to make a positive impact for the Black Cats in the next few months.