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Monday 20 November 2017

O'Neill dreams of final destination for Black Cats

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill will do all he can to address the one glaring absence on his CV as he heads into his latest FA Cup campaign.

The 59-year-old has never reached the final of the world's oldest club competition as either a player or a manager, despite a trophy-laden career.

Even at the height of his playing days under Brian Clough as Nottingham Forest took Europe by storm, the FA Cup failed to yield the ultimate reward and that is something he would dearly love to address as he sends the 1973 winners into third-round battle at Championship side Peterborough tomorrow.

O'Neill said: "As a player, I never won it. I don't know whether Mr Clough took it all that seriously or not at the time -- of course he did, but you always felt that the league was the big thing.

"With Aston Villa, we reached the semi-final two years ago and were beaten by Chelsea. But I have never reached the final, I have never been in it. It's the only competition, as a player, that Forest didn't win."

Sunderland will embark upon their cup mission having enjoyed a significant Premier League resurgence under their new manager.

Of the six league games for which the Ulsterman has been in charge, the Black Cats have won four, including a shock 1-0 victory over leaders Manchester City, on the way to a points haul of 13 from a possible 18.

That has moved them into 10th place and eight points clear of the fight for survival and while that remains O'Neill's priority, he insists that does not preclude a tilt at cup glory.

He said: "If you had said to me here on the opening day that we would have had 24 points at this stage, I would have been ecstatic with that.

"The Premier League would obviously be the top priority. That's not to say now that you cannot go out and attempt to do your very best in this competition."

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