Kevin Phillips is “surprised” Jake Vokins has not hit the ground running at Sunderland.

The Stadium of Light legend, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, said he expected the 21-year-old to be a regular starter for the second half of the campaign.

Vokins joined the Black Cats on loan from Southampton in January but has struggled for game time so far.

He has made four starts in League One and impressed away at Accrington Stanley last week before he was left out of the matchday squad that drew with Lincoln City, presumably due to injury.

As quoted by the Chronicle, assistant manager Jamie McAllister revealed “a lot of work” has been done with the left-back on the training ground in recent weeks.

When asked by Football Insider for his assessment of Vokins’ impact at Sunderland, Phillips said: “I’m surprised he hasn’t set the world alight so far.

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“We are not privy to what happens on the training ground so it is hard to say why it hasn’t worked out.

“Coming from Southampton, you thought he would slot into the starting XI straight away. It can take time for some players to adjust and adapt and he is obviously one of them.

“I am sure Vokins’ time will come though. He will get another opportunity between now and the end of the season because he has shown in the past that he is a fantastic player.”

In other news, Sunderland, Portsmouth and Ipswich are in a race to sign St Johnstone  forward Guy Melamed ahead of the summer transfer window.