Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cats Stars Warned by O'Neill on Futures; O'NEILL LOOKING FOR IMPROVEMENT FROM HIS CATS

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cats Stars Warned by O'Neill on Futures; O'NEILL LOOKING FOR IMPROVEMENT FROM HIS CATS

Article excerpt

MARTIN O'Neill has made it clear to his players that many of them are playing for their Sunderland futures over the final weeks of this season, writes NEIL CAMERON.

With a busy summer of signings ahead of the Black Cats, the manager wants to see the club's players, both on the fringes and in the first-team, to prove to him that they are good enough to be kept on for next season.

O'Neill has never been a fan of squad rotation, however, he would like to make changes over the last four league games, starting at Aston Villa next weekend.

Although there is not as much scope as he would like as, not for the first time, he made mention of the fact that in his opinion there are not enough young players good enough to be knocking on the first-team door.

Sunderland looked like a side who were ready for the end of the season during Saturday's home draw with bottom of the table Wolves. However, while O'Neill did not accept the players were already on their holidays, he still issued a timely reminder that for Sunderland to move forward, changes will need to made in preseason and that could mean some of the current squad exiting the Stadium of Light.

He said: "I don't want to see the end of the season. The performance at the weekend would suggest that (the players do), but I don't really want to believe that myself and I genuinely don't believe that.

"But we were off the mark against Wolves. We have to keep giving the players occasional reminders during the week.

"Interestingly, from my viewpoint, I know players are always fighting for places, but there are one or two positions here where they could cement a place of next season, or the opposite might happen. We stuck with them (in January) and they were terrific, but it's time to move on. "I heard Harry Redknapp saying recently that if Tottenham want to improve they have to press on again and improve the squad. …

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