Kevin Phillips keen to forge strong links with Sunderland as he discusses Lee Johnson phone call; The Sunderland legend has been officially unveiled as South Shields manager, and plans to be in regular contact with his former club.

Byline: By, Mark Carruthers

Sunderland legend Kevin Phillips is keen to forge strong links with his former club as he embarks on his managerial career with South Shields.

The former Black Cats striker became a cult figure at the Stadium of Light as he plundered his way to 130 goals in 235 games during a six-year stay on Wearside.

After spending time with the likes of Southampton, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace, Phillips moved into coaching during spells with Leicester City, Derby County and Stoke City.

His first move into management has come in the rather unexpected surroundings of the Northern Premier League as he looks to help the Mariners continue their progression towards a targeted place in the Football League.

Discussions between key figures at South Shields and Sunderland are planned for the near future as the two clubs look to enhance their relationship over the coming weeks and months.

Phillips believes that any link between his former and current employers can only help him settle into his new role at the 1st Cloud Arena.

He told Chronicle Live: "I think that's what it is at all levels really and to try and lean on each other for experience.

"But I think moving forward the link is definitely if Sunderland sign a player and they think he has to go out on loan, can we look at that, facilitate that.

"I'm not too full up on it yet but I believe there are some chats going on at the beginning of next month, which I'll sit in on.

"I know Kristian Speakman well, I worked with him at Birmingham so there are conversations going on.

"It can only benefit the club, of course.

"At some point maybe we can go along and use their facilities at some point and be plusses from it.

It would be great to have that link with such a great football club.

Phillips revealed he has received a number of calls and messages from people around the football world.

One of the first came from Sunderland manager Lee Johnson, who finds his side in a similar position to Phillips at South Shields.

Both sides are sat in third place in their respective leagues and are expected to challenge for a much-needed promotion after spending a longer-than-expected stay in their current division.

Phillips is looking forward to working with the Black Cats boss and admitted there is pressure on both men to succeed.

"I've been to watch them six or seven times -it's typical Sunderland, up and down," he said.

"They are heading in the right direction, they are sitting third in the...

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