The Black Cats face League Two high-flyers Tranmere Rovers at Wembley, just under two years since they were beaten by Portsmouth on penalties in front of a competition-record crowd of 85,000 following a dramatic 2-2 draw in normal time.
However, the game will be played behind closed doors to keep in line with Government guidelines, and whilst Phillips has urged Sunderland’s players to treat it as just another match, he believes that the lack of pressure from the Stadium of Light faithful should help Johnson’s in-form outfit.
He exclusively told Football FanCast:
“Yes, it’s a cup final, but it’s another match. They should treat it like it’s another league match. They were great against Portsmouth the other night, they’re full of confidence, but it’s just another football match, go and win the football match.
“Forget about the occasion, I think it’ll be made easier that there isn’t going to be 80,000-odd there like there was against Portsmouth two years ago, there’s no pressure from the supporters.
“They should treat it like a normal match. If they win, of course, brilliant, they get a trophy, and then they can kick on for the last 12 games of the season.”
Despite Sunderland going great guns in their race for League One promotion, Phillips is wary of Tranmere’s threat. He added:
“Let’s not forget they’re coming up against a bang in-form Tranmere side. Keith Hill has done a great job, so it’ll be a tough match.”
Kevin Phillips will be a studio guest for Quest’s highlights of the Papa John’s Trophy Final on Sunday. Stream on discovery+