By Kevin Phillips

12th Mar, 2020 | 7:00pm

'Up to their usual tricks' - Exclusive: Kevin Phillips reacts as Sunderland player axed

Kevin Phillips claimed it was “no surprise” to see Lynden Gooch dropped for Sunderland as they lost away to Bristol Rovers on Tuesday. 

The 2000 European Golden Shoe winner, speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Dylan Childs, suggested the ‘main man’ on Wearside has struggled in recent games.

The 24-year-old watched on from the bench as the Black Cats’ hopes of promotion suffered a dent as they were beaten 2-0 away to Bristol Rovers.

Antoine Semenyo replaced Gooch in the starting eleven. It was the loanee’s first start since arriving from Bristol City in January.

When asked if he was shocked by Phil Parkinson’s team selection, Phillips told Football Insider: “Semenyo looked bright at the weekend. So I am not surprised he got a start.

“I know that Gooch has been carrying a slight knock. He and Maguire were not up to their usual tricks last weekend and they have had two or three quiet games. There was no surprise that Phil changed it.

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“Phil only makes one, a maximum of two changes where Jack Ross was criticised for making too many. Phil just freshens it up.

“It was a chance for Semenyo to come in and cement a place in that side but Gooch is probably their main player, I think he just needed a rest to get him ready for the run-in.”

Gooch has been one of the standout performers for the Red and Whites this campaign, scoring 10 goals in 32 appearances.

The loss saw the promotion hopefuls drop out of the play-off spots into seventh having also played one more game than the teams above them.

In other Sunderland news, Kevin Phillips has told Football Insider off-pitch deal can provide takeover boost.