Phillips '100%' sure Sunderland 29-year-old will start v Fleetwood after Flanagan 'blow'
Bailey Wright will “100 per cent” replace Tom Flanagan when Sunderland travel to Fleetwood Town.
That is the view of Stadium of Light legend Kevin Phillips, speaking exclusively to Football Insider about the selection dilemma facing Lee Johnson this weekend.
Flanagan is suspended for Saturday’s trip to Highbury after he picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in last weekend’s 2-1 victory over Accrington Stanley.
The Northern Ireland international has started every League One fixture this season and has impressed alongside summer signing Callum Doyle.
Phillips said it is a “big blow” to lose Flanagan but backed Wright, 29, to fill the void.
“100 per cent Wright starts,” he told Football Insider‘s Dylan Childs. “It will be a straight swap.
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“Bailey Wright came on at the weekend when they were trying to shut up shop so he’s got minutes under his belt.
“It’s a big blow losing Flanagan because he’s formed a great partnership with Doyle. They really compliment each other well.
“They have an understanding. Their distances are always spot on. They look tight. The back four on the whole look like a good unit.
“I think it will be a straight swap with Bailey Wright and I have no problem with that because he has experience and leadership qualities. The minutes at the weekend will have really helped him. Hopefully he has got rid of that rustiness.
“He’s shown that he is a top defender. We saw that before he got injured at Oxford last season. He’s a great player to have in the background and it’s a big opportunity for him to stake his claim in the starting XI again.”