LEE JOHNSON admitted to experiencing a mixture of pride and frustration in the wake of Sunderland’s goalless draw with Northampton Town.

The Black Cats boss was delighted with his players’ response after the club’s Covid outbreak, with eight members of today’s starting line-up at Sixfields having contracted coronavirus.

However, with his side having dominated possession for long periods against an unambitious Northampton team, he was disappointed at his players’ failure to seriously threaten a breakthrough.

Johnson said: “In one sense, I was proud of them today. In one sense, I was frustrated. I feel like we need to continue the form we showed at Lincoln. The team we played today, bar one, was the same, and at that point your thinking, ‘Right, there’s something to build on’.

“But in fairness, there’s been a lot that’s gone on in between. You can’t have excuses though. We’ve got to believe when no one else does. That cause has to be created from within.”

None of Sunderland’s players appeared to be showing any physical effects from their Covid infection, which was an understandable relief to Johnson and the Black Cats’ medical staff.

Johnson said: “It’s a massive relief because you just don’t know. Obviously matchday is very different to training. They've looked okay in training.

“I think there's a couple who need to be a bit brighter and believe in it a little bit more, and that's the bit where I'm seeing a bit of inconsistency. One day we're up and believe, and the other we don't quite.”

In the absence of both Denver Hume and Callum McFadzean, Johnson admits there was a lack of balance to Sunderland’s side with the right-footed Dion Sanderson lining up at left-back and Aiden McGeady also looking to cut inside from his position on the left flank.

A naturally left-sided forward is likely to be a priority as Johnson looks to exploit the transfer window, which opened yesterday.

He said: “At the moment, we haven't got a left footer in the team. I nearly put Embo (Elliot Embleton) in there but the only thing is, the sheer height of their side, it only takes one delivery to leave us short in our box.

“As a manager you're always playing that risk-reward and at the end of the day, it is a point. We know what we have to improve on, either by coaching or recruiting.”