Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cats Boss Proud of Players' Efforts

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cats Boss Proud of Players' Efforts

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Douglas

MARTIN O'Neill has told his Sunderland players to forget what might have been and remember all they have achieved under him this season.

In a glowing vote of confidence for Black Cats players who feel they are playing for their futures under the Ulsterman, O'Neill has formally absolved them behind closed doors of any blame for not going further in the FA Cup.

He has taken the pressure off them in the Premier League run-in by telling them they have already performed wonders to haul themselves back from a relegation season to finish the season in fine form.

O'Neill will use the final games of the season to assess which of his players are assured of a place in his squad next season and several fringe men know they are playing to remain at the Stadium of Light for the 2012-13 campaign.

Ahmed Elmohamady, Craig Gordon, Matt Kilgallon, Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-Won are among the players who have barely featured under O'Neill since he took over, while the manager is also understood to want to see more of David Meyler in the final weeks of the campaign.

For the established men there have been reassurances, however.

Skipper Lee Cattermole has revealed a positive team meeting in the wake of the FA Cup sixthround replay defeat by Everton helped inspire the performance at Manchester City which saw them unlucky to draw 3-3, having led 3-1, and convinced them they can finish the season on a high note.

Cattrermole said: "The gaffer made us watch the first half against Everton again. "It was even more frustrating watching the game because I felt we were in the game at half-time. "We put that behind us and we went out on Friday in training. "The manager told us he is happy with what we have achieved under him and we have still a lot to play for this season and that we could not afford to dwell on the defeat by Everton. …

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