Kevin Phillips claims Lynden Gooch’s injury has handed summer signing Aiden O’Brien a “massive opportunity” to kickstart his Sunderland career.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, the Stadium of Light legend said it is time for Phil Parkinson’s side to “stand up” after another “crushing” equaliser in League One.
The Black Cats let a 1-0 lead slip at Fleetwood Town on Friday and missed the opportunity to leapfrog their opponents in the table.
O’Brien was absent for the second game running because of injury but he is expected to play a bigger role over the festive period with Lynden Gooch sidelined with a broken foot.
The summer signing from Millwall has made seven appearances in League One this season but is yet to score.
When asked by Football Insider if he expected O’Brien to step up in the absence of Gooch, Phillips said: “It is a big opportunity.
“When one door closes another one opens. When somebody gets injured it is unfortunate but it is an opportunity for somebody else to step up to the plate and start putting in performances.
“Not just O’Brien though, it is time for all of those players to stand up.
“It was a crushing blow to concede another equaliser. Everyone needs to step up.
“O’Brien started brightly and then dipped but he has been at the club a while now so I would like to see him kick on. If he can get back fit it is a massive opportunity.”
In other Sunderland news, Kevin Phillips reveals signing he expects his former club to seal post-takeover.