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Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson must start Tom Flanagan

Whilst Sunderland may not be in the play-off spots at the moment in League One, the one thing that they’ve got spot on for pretty much most of the season, has been their defence.

Before the Black Cats’ shock 2-1 reverse to MK Dons last weekend, they had the best defensive record in the division, and even now are joint-second.

One big reason for that, is Tom Flanagan. The 6 foot 2 centre-back has been one of the first names on the team sheet for Phil Parkinson this season, featuring in every single game bar one in which he has been available for.

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Sunderland's manager Jack Ross gestures during the Portsmouth match, August 2018

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His presence was badly missed in the defeat against the Dons, with Flanagan off on international duty with Northern Ireland. The defender was an unused substitute in the 1-1 draw with Romania, and The Northern Echo have claimed that he will have taken part in training on Friday.

After such a bruising defeat last time out in League One, Parkinson will be desperate to turn things around immediately, and bringing in one of the cornerstones of his miserly defence from this season could be the difference-maker to getting the side back on track.

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Speaking earlier this year, the Sunderland boss said: “Tommy in the last month or so has taken his game to another level. That is by identifying what he needs to do to have a good game, and training properly.

“His standard of training has gone up and he is reaping the benefits of that on a match day. He is desperate to do well, he is a good professional and I am pleased with his performances.”

Providing he passes any late fitness checks, Flanagan should be thrown straight back into the side for the game against Doncaster on Saturday.

Article title: Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson must start Tom Flanagan

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