ALTHOUGH Sunderland lost their Papa Johns Trophy game with Bradford City 4-2 on penalties, Lee Johnson was confident the game will have done his squad some good. 

The Black Cats were already through to the round of 32 but the 1-1 result on the evening ensured a home tie in the next round. 

The League One side have endured a recent rut having lost their last three games but the boss says there was plenty to take away from the game heading into an extended period without a game. 

Johnson said: "The fact that we already were through in the competition allowed us to make decisions based on the Ipswich game and the development of our younger players.

"Clearly some of our senior players were a little bit rusty, having come back from injury or little knocks and niggles, and will be better for it.

"Senior players have had a little sharpener which I'm happy with, and I'm happy with how the U23s who stepped up performed.

"At half time you get an opportunity to coach a little bit and the main thing was our backline needed to be a lot more aggressive, a lot stronger, a lot more dominant in body and voice.

"When we showed that, it allowed our technical players to be closer and more compact."

The Black Cats are now six points off league leaders Wigan Athletic and need to make up ground. 

With one eye on their next league game, the manager added: "For me there were a lot of positives in preparation for that Ipswich game. 

"We want to win games but we've also got to think about the project, and I've got to be brave and keep doing the right things no matter what the external feeling is at the time.

"You could see a couple of our players were rusty and they will be much better for that game."