Kevin Phillips heaped praise on Phil Parkinson for his start at Sunderland but admitted the suspension of fixtures was timely.

The former Stadium of Light striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, suggested the forced break took the heat off the Black Cats as pressure built.

Phil Parkinson’s side fell out of the play-off spots prior to the postponement of all fixtures after failing to win any of their last four games.

The EFL, like many leagues in Europe, is suspended indefinitely due to the outbreak of the virus COVID-19 – the UK currently under lockdown measures imposed by the government.

When asked for his assessment of the former Bolton manager’s start on Wearside, Phillips told Football Insider: “There is always huge expectations but I think Phil has done great. It was difficult circumstances when he went in there. Everyone was on a bit of a downer after Jack left and it took a while to settle.

“He has now found a system and the players to fit the system with the three at the back and the two wing-backs. The front-three are settled.

“Of course, the last three or four games there have been murmurs and disappointment as they slipped out of the play-offs but it was going to happen. Every club has a blip. The break will hopefully do them the world of good – the pressure is off for now.”

Parkinson was appointed in mid-October and after an indifferent start has managed to get the Black Cats back in contention for promotion.

In other Sunderland news, Kevin Phillips has told Football Insider how coronavirus pandemic will affect potential takeover bid.