Phil Parkinson has got it seriously wrong and risks Lee Burge’s wrath after claiming the Sunderland goalkeeper is in a three-way battle for the starting role.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s League One clash with Doncaster Rovers, via quotes by The Northern Echo, Parkinson has claimed he has no first-choice shot-stopper as all three of Burge, Remi Matthews and young hopeful Anthony Patterson are in the running.
Burge opened the campaign as Parkinson’s go-to option after Jon McLaughlin opted to ditch the Stadium of Light and join Rangers on a free transfer, with the 27-year-old starting the first 10 fixtures of the League One season before a slight ankle problem ensured he fell to the bench last week.
Matthews started in Burge’s place at home to MK Dons to make his Sunderland league debut after being signed from Bolton Wanderers in the summer, while Patterson only earned his senior debut in this month’s Papa John’s Trophy defeat away to Fleetwood Town.
Parkinson was yet to decide who will feature in goal at Doncaster this weekend when speaking to the media, having been impressed by what Matthews brought to the table, and believes there is now a chance for all three to contend for the starting role.
“My thoughts behind last week were that Remi had done well in the game prior to that (against Mansfield in the FA Cup), and Burgey had been carrying a slight problem with his ankle, which was affecting his kicking. So, we went with Remi.
“Do you then say Remi is your number one? That’s not really the case because I feel we’ve got three good goalkeepers at the club. I want competition, and I think rather than saying one keeper is categorically the number one and the other one is happy to play the role of number two, I want the two-stroke-three ‘keepers to all believe they can get in that team. That’s what I feel we’ve got and its good competition.
“Anthony came in against Fleetwood and showed what we know he can do because he’s played so well in the Under 23s. He trains with the first-team every day and he’s pushing hard.”
While Parkinson will be hoping that his comments can keep Burge, Matthews and Patterson on their toes, the Sunderland boss has got it seriously wrong thinking that all three are in a position to challenge for the starting role.
His comments also risk the wrath of Burge, who kept six clean sheets in his 10 League One appearances and only fell out of the starting line-up through injury. Had it not been for the blow, then the £2,000-per-week ‘keeper would have been expected to retain the position as Sunderland’s clear first-choice shot-stopper.
Matthews, on the other hand, is yet to keep the opponents from scoring in any of his four appearances this season, including allowing League Two outfit Carlisle United to score three times in the EFL Trophy and Mansfield Town once as the Black Cats were beaten in the FA Cup by a side who were winless in all competitions.
MK Dons also scored twice from four shots on target last week, while Matthews recorded no punches, successful runs out or high claims whereas Burge has registered 10 saves from shots taken inside the Sunderland box, six from outside the area, made two punches, two successful runs out and registered five high claims this term, per SofaScore.
Burge would be livid for Parkinson to also consider Patterson, who conceded twice in his senior debut and has kept just two clean sheets in 34 Premier League 2 outings over the last three seasons.