Sunderland journalist Phil Smith has been sharing his thoughts on Black Cats midfielder Dan Neil and his role in the team at the moment.
On the subject of Neil, who managed to grab an assist during the club’s recent 3-2 victory over Blackpool in the Carabao Cup, Smith had this to say about the player’s role in the team moving forward.
He said: “He’s made himself an absolutely integral part of this squad, he’s made himself arguably one of the first names on the teamsheet at the moment, and that’s a hugely impressive achievement.
“One thing I would say, is it’s worth bearing in mind as well that he has played more minutes than anyone at the club since the start of pre-season, so at some point, I imagine Lee Johnson is going to drop him out of the side just briefly, and we shouldn’t take that as a criticism of his play, or a sign that he’s not a central player.
“I just think realistically, you’ve got a player who’s barely played any senior football, who’s gone to play just about every minute for two, three months.
“At some point, there’s going to be a little rest, I think, perhaps not too far in the future, when more players are available etc, but he’s been outstanding, he’s been an absolute joy to watch.”
TIF Thoughts on Phil Smith’s comments on Neil…
As Smith spoke about, the fact that Neil has played 90 minutes of every game Sunderland have had so far this season across all competitions, either as a left-back or central midfielder, it’s easy to see why he thinks the player could be in line for a break out of the team soon.
Do you think Dan Neil needs a break?
This also says to us just how important he is to the team now after only making two very short cameos in League One last season.
In our view, if Neil is set to take some time out of the team in the near future, we feel it would make sense just to make sure the player isn’t in danger of picking up an injury or burning out this early in the season even though he’s only 19 years old.