Kevin Phillips has backed Sunderland summer signing Aiden O’Brien to prove his worth after a difficult period at the Stadium of Light.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, the 2000 European Golden Shoe winner claimed that Sunderland is “such a big club” that it takes a “special kind of player” to handle the pressure.

O’Brien started the 2-1 loss at Fleetwood Town on Tuesday night, just his second start since 3 October for the Black Cats.

The summer arrival from Millwall has struggled to establish himself in Phil Parkinson’s starting eleven with Lynden Gooch, Charlie Wyke and Chris Maguire preferred in attack.

Phillips claimed Phil Parkinson has been “clever” with his management of the Republic of Ireland international.

“It can take time for a new player coming into a side,” he told Football Insider.

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“From my sources he was very lively in preseason and the early part of the season but he has hit a bit of a dip.

“I do not know what it is at Sunderland. It is such a big football club. It takes a special kind of player to succeed up there I think.

“You get it in your ear left, right and centre. Some players cannot handle that but I am not saying that O’Brien is one of them.

“I think Parkinson is probably just being clever with him and I still think he will turn out to be a great signing for them.”

In other Sunderland news, Kevin Phillips in awe of senior player who is ‘rolling back the years’.