By Kevin Phillips

5th Oct, 2021 | 8:00am

Phillips salutes Johnson after star player's Sunderland transfer admission

Kevin Phillips has claimed Sunderland were right to keep Bailey Wright after the defender addressed the transfer speculation which surrounded his name in the summer.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the Stadium of Light legend said the 29-year-old’s attributes both on and off the field make him an asset to Lee Johnson’s side.

Wright had a day to forget on Saturday as a woeful Sunderland were beaten 4-0 by Portsmouth at Fratton Park.

As quoted by the Chronicle last Thursday, the centre-half revealed how his close relationship with Lee Johnson has enabled him to stay focused amid uncertainty about his future.

Wright’s contract on Wearside is set to expire at the end of next June.

When asked by Football Insider‘s Dylan Childs for his assessment of Wright’s future, Phillips said:

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“I just don’t think Sunderland could have afforded to let him go, nor can they in January.

“He is pivotal when he plays and around the dressing room it looks like he has a lot of respect and authority. You need those kind of leadership qualities to nurture the younger players.

“He is a very good player at that level. He has shown it consistently.

“I think we will see him stay at least until the end of the season and perhaps longer.

“It’s great that he has a good relationship with the manager as well. One of the biggest things that has jumped out to me from what I’ve heard is that Lee Johnson has a fantastic relationship with this group of players.

“It is hopefully a sign that this team can be successful.”

In other news, Phillips has claimed Sunderland have a ‘massive worry’ after a reveal from Johnson.