LEE JOHNSON wants Sunderland to keep on playing – even if Covid and injuries keep wrecking his plans.

The Black Cats recalled Anthony Patterson, Jack Diamond and Josh Hawkes from loans before Saturday's dramatic 3-3 draw at Wycombe.

All three are due to return to Notts County, Harrogate Town and Tranmere Rovers respectively later this month, when more of the squad return.

Johnson dismissed any idea that he would use absent players to have a break.

He said: "We could have easily called it off, both goalkeepers had Covid. But we didn’t want to – we wanted to compete.

“It was good, the likes of Jack and Hawkes and Patterson - who I thought was outstanding by the way - come back and they look like they’ve been here for a long time.

“It means the loans are good, it means they know the way we want to play and that they can come in and affect a top-of-the-table League One clash.”

Sunderland were denied a win at Wycombe by an injury-time equaliser from a corner. The Charboys did similar in their previous home fixture against AFC Wimbledon, with Joe Jacobson netting late on in both games.

Johnson was annoyed with the late slip, but felt the different approaches of both sides made a good contest.

He said “Two contrasting styles made it an interesting game, because you were always on the edge of your seat. Both teams could score in their particular way and implemented their strengths on the opposition.

“With a one-goal deficit, they can go gung-ho. If you freeze-frame what led to the corner, they had five on the line and we had five, and we needed that one player extra.

“I thought it was a good advert for a top League One game, our travelling fans were superb, and they’ll be as disappointed as we are, because they would have felt we deserved to go away with three points.”

Meanwhile, Lynden Gooch feels his team-mates are happy to play anywhere on the field. The American impressed at Adams Park, helping set up what looked like the winning Sunderland goal, and believes the club's ten-game unbeaten league run comes from players knowing the system.

He said: “Even on this great run we’ve had, we’ve had people playing out of position, myself included. We’ve had loads of players playing over the park trying to fill the gaps.

“We all understand what the manager wants."