Tony Mowbray feels Niall Huggins has overcome his injury frustration. Tony Mowbray feels Niall Huggins has put his injury woes behind him following his match-winning performance against Watford.
Sunderland were frustrated in the first half against a determined visitor team eager to attack on the break, but a superb solo shot from the full back just before halftime put the game out of reach.
Not long after the break, Abdoullah Ba added a second to make it a relatively simple night for Mowbray and his team.
Huggins was also outstanding defensively, highlighting his growth in his fifth consecutive start.
“I’m delighted for Niall, he’s had a tough time with injury in my time here,” Mowbray said.
“There have been some really good moments in there for him as well, I can think of Birmingham away last year when he performed very well.
“We can see in training how well he travels with the ball, he weaves in and out of people easily and you saw that for the goal. We did huff and puff a bit in the first half against a strong, powerful team but we got the job done.
“We needed that big of magic, usually it’s Clarke or Roberts but tonight it was Niall.
“I’m really pleased for him, I genuinely felt he struggled with the mental side of it with injury after injury. I think he’s broken through that now, he’s pretty robust and he’s ready to go. It’s real competition for us, and that’s great.
“I was really pleased with the discipline, our centre-backs were amazing. Abdoullah scoring as well, it’s good that we’re sharing the goals around the pitch.
“We just have to keep going; it was a good performance, and they pose a threat to any team.” We’ve watched a lot of football in recent weeks, and I’m not convinced the outcomes reflect the performances and persons they have.
“I’m pleased to be sat here with three points.”
Mowbray responded to Alex Pritchard’s injury by inserting Abdoullah Ba, who replaced Patrick Roberts in the lineup.
His second minor but essential change was to transfer Huggins to the right side, leaving Hume at left back.
“It was mainly about our rotations and how we were going to get Jobe Bellingham higher up the pitch,” Mowbray said.
“Because Hume can play as a full back as well as a central midfielder, we felt that was the best way to get Bellingham up the pitch and, as a result, get Roberts out to the right, where he is so dangerous cutting onto his left foot.”
“So we wanted to move Hume to push Bellingham into the left ten position, and moving Hume was the best way to do it.” We knew there would be no problems because he had done it in his last two Northern Ireland international games. Niall is naturally right-handed, so we thought it would assist the team’s balance.”