Sunderland’s Tony Mowbray has say on Jack Colback’s red card at QPR and gives an injury update

Tony Mowbray’s Sunderland came from behind to beat ten-man QPR at Loftus Road.

Tony Mowbray’s Sunderland came from behind to beat ten-man QPR at Loftus Road

Tony Mowbray says the reaction of his players told him that QPR midfielder Jack Colback’s red card was deserved – even though the Sunderland boss has not yet seen a replay of the incident. Sunderland came from behind to win 3-1 at Loftus Road, but the red card dished out to former Black Cats midfielder Colback midway through the first half – when QPR were leading 1-0 – was a turning point in the game.

Colback’s lunging challenge on Jobe Bellingham left the Sunderland man writhing in pain and referee Dean Whitestone decided it merited a straight red. “I haven’t seen it back yet,” said Mowbray.

“What I would say is that I thought the referee had a difficult day, to be honest, particularly in the first half. I’m not sure I agreed with many of his decisions in the first half.


Sunderland head coach Tony Mowbray throws the ball to Niall Huggins

“What I gauge it by was the reaction of the players, which was quite abrupt – everybody went racing over as if it was a really bad tackle. It wasn’t one of those where they weren’t sure … everybody went over because they were protective of their teammate and that tells me it was a bad challenge, but I haven’t seen it back.”

QPR had taken the lead inside the opening quarter-hour through Kenneth Paal, but a deflected strike from Jack Clarke in first-half injury time levelled things up. And then Dan Ballard put Sunderland in front just before the hour, with Abdoullah Ba adding the third with ten minutes remaining.


Mowbray said: “I thought we started really well in the game, dominated, and then they scored. It wasn’t as if they were peppering our goal and giving us problems, but it was a good goal, right in the bottom corner, a good strike.

“I felt it was a matter of time before we scored and it was great that we scored before half-time. But I sat and watched for 20-25 minutes and we needed some more creativity on the pitch so at half-time Niall [Huggins] was off and Patrick [Roberts] was on and there was a bit of a change of shape and we got control but they [QPR] were trying to be protective of what they have.


“We’ve got some good footballers and we got the job done, but I think we deserved it. I’ve watched a lot of their games and they spend a lot of time out of possession – I think their average possession is about 33 percent – so we knew we would have a lot of the ball, it was about how you break down their defensive block and we found a way today.”


Sunderland suffered an injury blow in the first half when Pierre Ekwah limped off, but Mowbray said it was not a serious issue and the midfielder could be fit for the midweek trip to Blackburn Rovers. Mowbray said: “Pierre hasn’t trained much this week, he’d been struggling with a dead leg.


“He trained on Friday and so we thought he would get through the game because it wasn’t a strain or a tear, it’s just a bang he took on the thigh. The problem was he got a bang in exactly the same place a couple of minutes in, he tried to run it off but he couldn’t so we just got him off.


“We’ll get some heat on it, give it a massage and hopefully it’ll be alright for Wednesday.


Mowbray was also forced into two changes to his starting line-up against QPR, with Bradley Dack and Dennis Cirkin missing out. Midfielder Dack had a minor strain and could be fit in time to face his former club on Wednesday night at Ewood Park, but left-back Cirkin has a hamstring problem and is likely to be out for at least a couple of weeks.


Mowbray said: “Bradley just has a slight strain, he’s very hopeful of being ready for Wednesday. We could have brought him but we didn’t think that was worth taking that risk today, so he’s got a very good chance for the Blackburn game.


“Dennis is a different kettle of fish, he’s got a hamstring strain and is going to miss a couple of weeks at least and probably a touch more. That’s a blow to us of course, but Niall [Huggins] came in today and did very well for us.


“We just felt that with the way the game was going, the heat and that they had ten men, we could get Roberts on for that bit of creativity.”


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