Monday 21 January 2019

O'Shea: McGeady will be a top cat

O'Neill will be eager to see Long gets game time at Southampton

Sunderland’s Aiden McGeady.
Sunderland’s Aiden McGeady.

John O'Shea is confident that Ireland team-mate Aiden McGeady will make a big impact at Sunderland.

It was a slow start to the new term for the Irish contingent at the Black Cats as O'Shea and troubled midfielder Darron Gibson were unused subs for the season opener, a 1-1 draw at home to Derby. But McGeady did make his competitive debut in that game, and O'Shea has welcomed his arrival in the north-east.

"The manager took him on loan to Preston last season and saw what kind of player he is at first hand, a match winner," said O'Shea of McGeady.

"The confidence he got from that, the manager has brought him up here, he'll be a great player and he will excite the fans too.

"I've seen at close hand his ability, his skill taking players on, going left, going right. He can deliver the cross and get assists but score goals as well.

"He's getting up to speed with the games, having come in that little bit later, but he'll be a really big player for Sunderland, that's for sure."

Sunderland face Norwich in the Championship next weekend, a game which Martin O'Neill or Roy Keane are likely to attend, as they hope that Norwich star Wes Hoolahan can keep improving his fitness ahead of the World Cup qualifier in Georgia in 26 days' time.

Hoolahan only came on for the final 10 minutes of Satuday's league game away to Fulham but still played a role as his clever ball set up the equalising goal for Nelson Oliveira, whose controversial goal celebration irked many in the Norwich camp.

Canaries manager Daniel Farke says he may use tonight's League Cup game at home to Swindon to give Hoolahan some more game time.

"Wes (Hoolahan) is a little bit further on because he played Saturday and had that brilliant assist for Nelson's goal. Normally they (Wes and Ivo Pinto) would need a little bit longer but they also need some minutes," says the German coach.

"We only have two days between the games and some guys need a rest after such a hard game. Wes and Ivo were so important last season and they're going to be so important this season so we need them at 100% but they also need some minutes."

Before Monday's squad announcement for the Georgia/Serbia double header, O'Neill will also be eager to see if Shane Long gets game time in the coming weeks.

Long, who missed the three internationals in June due to injury, was a second-half sub for the Saints in their final pre-season game last weekend but is in the thoughts of manager Manuel Pellegrini.

"We were doing some experiments with some players. James Ward-Prowse inside, Shane Long outside, and other players out of position, but I have to see different options for the future," says Pellegrini. "We have players who can play and that is good news for us."

Brentford have given a positive update on the recovery process for crocked Ireland international Alan Judge. He has been absent since he suffered a broken leg while on club duty 16 months ago but he made good progress while on a specialised two-week rehab programme in the USA.

"I have worked closely with Alan since his return from the camp, it`s clear to see that aims of the camp were achieved and he is now demonstrating far greater confidence and movement quality than we have seen previously," says Neil Greig, Brentford's Head of Medical.

"Alan's engagement with the reconditioning process was first class, as it has been throughout his recovery, and he is now well placed to begin the next phase of his return."

Meanwhile, Leeds United boss Thomas Christiansen says he was pleased with the contribution of Galway-born player Conor Shaughnessy after his first team debut. Shaughnessy (21) came off the bench to fill in for injured defender Matthew Pennington in Saturday's 3-2 win away to Bolton and despite giving away a penalty, he made an impression on Christiansen.

"I was very pleased with the contribution of Conor Shaughnessy and Vurnon Anita. They came on and did well," he said. Leeds have since signed Cameron Borthwick-Jackson on loan from Manchester United as defensive cover.

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