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Kevin Phillips will not celebrate against Sunderland
Published : 22 Sep 2009 11:44:46Rss feed
Phillips became a talismanic figure during a six-year stint on Wearside and while he has no intention of ruining his relations with Sunderland fans he will have no qualms about firing his team into the fourth round of the competition at their expense. "I'll always have the greatest respect for Sunderland fans, and tonight, if I score, I've got no plans to celebrate," said Phillips. Related ArticlesNugent sets sights on World CupBurnley 3 Sunderland 1Premier League tablePremier League action"I want to leave the stadium tonight with good memories, although it hasn't escaped my notice that to have a really good game I'll have had to score against my old club." Philips scored 130 goals in 233 appearances for Sunderland following a £250,000-move from Watford which is arguably the best bargain his old club has ever struck in the transfer market. "I'm excited about the game because it's not often these days I start matches, and because, of course, the game's in Sunderland," the 36-year-old said. "I'm really looking forward to coming back up to the North East, and it has dawned on me that this could be the last time I play at the Stadium of Light. "There's obviously a league game to come between the two clubs, but with me set to mainly come off the bench this season, there's no guarantee I'll be involved in that game. So I think it'll be quite emotional for me." Phillips was signed by then manager Peter Reid and he formed a prolific partnership with now chairman Niall Quinn to propel Sunderland from the old division one into the upper reaches of the Premier League before he left for Southampton following relegation in 2003. "I absolutely loved my time at the club, and when I look back on my career, those are the memories that stick out in my mind the most," added Phillips who won eight England caps thanks to his exploits at Sunderland. "I had a great rapport with the supporters. They were magnificent, and scoring goals for them and saluting them afterwards is a memory that always puts a smile on my face. "I've been back to the club as a player twice since I left. The first time I got a great reception, scored a goal and didn't celebrate. "The second time was after there had been speculation that I might come back and I didn't, and the reception wasn't so great. "I can understand that. I suppose some fans thought I'd snubbed the club at the time. "But I hope they appreciate that decisions aren't always straightforward, and I made the choice to stay in the Midlands for what seemed the right reasons at the time." Meanwhile, Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has told his players that they need to pull their socks up against his former club following the 3-1 defeat at Burnley. "In the first half, we were in complete control and looked a very decent team," Bruce said. "In the second half - and in the last half hour in particular - we went from the sublime to the ridiculous. "I would never criticise anyone publicly, but I had a meeting with the players yesterday, and I pointed out a few things that have to improve and if some players don't improve, they can't play at this football club - it's as simple as that. "There was such a big contrast between the first-half performance and the second-half performance, and I believe the reason for that was that our mentality wasn't good enough. "If they're not mentally capable, then they are simply not good enough to be here." Bruce will be without injured midfielder Lee Cattermole tonight but defender John Mensah is expected to make his full debut along with Paulo Da Silva. "It's good to have a cup tie straight away to try and get the Burnley game out of our system," he said. "It's a chance for us to get through to the next round, and it is a chance we must take, but this is one of the competitions we can realistically win this season."
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