Phillips shares verdict on Johnson 'bowing to fans' and recalling Maguire to Sunderland XI

Sunderland manager Lee Johnson could “bow to the fans” and bring Chris Maguire back into the starting XI ahead of the play-offs, according to Kevin Phillips.

However, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the Stadium of Light legend fears it is unlikely given the 32-year-old’s lack of game time since Johnson’s appointment last December.

Maguire came of the bench to score a vital goal for the Black Cats on Saturday, as they beat Plymouth Argyle 3-1 to secure a place in this season’s play-offs.

Fans and local press have questioned why the winger has been frozen out of the team in 2021 and have called for him to be reintroduced into the starting XI.

When quizzed on Maguire’s lack of game time last weekend, Johnson told the Chronicle there “has definitely never been any issues” between the pair of them.

When asked by Football Insider‘s Dylan Childs if Maguire could be handed a rare start against Northampton this weekend, Phillips said:

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

“It is a really tough one because Lee Johnson has his side and his players in mind and Maguire has not been used. I would be surprised if he is given a proper chance.

“Listen, he has some great qualities and he is certainly a player that can turn a game on its head but given that Lee has not used him an awful lot, why would he turn to him now? He might bow to the fans but I don’t see it if I’m honest.

“It is going to be two tough matches come the end of play at the weekend.

“Johnson has others players in his mind so for that reason I cannot see Maguire starting any games between now and the end of the season.” 

In other news, Kevin Phillips claims Sunderland have already found a ‘cracking’ replacement for Wyke.