Sunderland favourite Kevin Phillips has hinted that Chris Maguire’s ongoing absence from the senior side could be due to poor performances in training.
The 32-year-old has been one of the Black Cats’ key attacking players since joining the club ahead of the 2018/19 campaign but has fallen out of favour under Lee Johnson.
Maguire hasn’t featured for the senior side since the start of April but is fit and has been playing with the U23s over the last few weeks.
Speaking to Football Insider, Phillips discussed the Scotsman’s absence and the potential reason behind it.
He said: “I am surprised by his lack of involvement this year but we do not know what he has been like on the training ground week in, week out.
“I have seen Maguire quite a few times this season and when he has come on he has had a positive impact. It is a surprising but there will be a reason he is not playing every week.
“It is important to remember that they have some great attacking players at the moment. Aiden McGeady is back, Jordan Jones has settled in well and then O’Brien has come into some form as well.
“There is a lot of competition for those spots but even so I am surprised he has not been given more minutes. I am sure he will have wanted more.”
Maguire has rarely been more than a bit-part player since Johnson took over in December but his current absence has coincided with a poor run of form for Johnson’s side.
Sunderland have taken just one point from their last three games and suffered consecutive defeats at the hands of Charlton and Wigan – denting their chances of automatic promotion.
Injuries have ravaged the Black Cats squad, particularly the defensive unit, so it will be interesting to see whether Maguire returns for the game against Blackpool on Saturday.
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It’s interesting to get Phillips insight into the Maguire situation, with the Scotsman out of favour under Johnson right now.
It may just be that in Jones, McGeady and O’Brien, the Sunderland boss feels he has better options but it does seem as if the 32-year-old has lost his manager’s faith completely.
Should their poor run continue, supporters will likely want to see Maguire – who has been a key man in the past – return to the side.