Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sessgnon Doubtful for League Opener

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sessgnon Doubtful for League Opener

Article excerpt

MARTIN O'Neill is "concerned" about Stphane Sessgnon's chances of making Saturday's opening game of the season, but relaxed about the playmaker's ability to catch up once he returns to training, writes STUART RAYNER.

Sessgnon and Phil Bardsley have not featured in pre-season, while Wes Brown only played 37 minutes.

Players who do not have a pre-season tend to struggle once the competitive action starts, although O'Neill was playing down any fears it might harm Sessgnon in the coming months.

He sat out Saturday's final pre-season game - a dismal 1-0 defeat at Leicester City - with an ankle injury, making him and Bardsley major doubts for Saturday's Premier League trip to Arsenal.

"Phil Bardsley hurt himself on the first day of training and hasn't done anything since," O'Neill explained. "Sessgnon had a couple of weeks off as he played some games in June, he came back and has hurt his ankle. We're hoping it's not too serious, but he is a concern.

"You're trying to balance all that with playing these friendlies, but you've got to try and get some fitness from somewhere.

"I don't think it'll take Sessgnon too long to get fit. He played a lot of games last season, which was starting to take its toll at the back end of the season and overall he earned a couple of weeks off after what he'd done for us from January onwards.

"He had a precautionary scan, we're hoping it's not too bad but we'll see how he is today."

Since signing in January 2011, the only competitive games Sessgnon has missed for Sunderland are three he sat out as punishment for his red card in the last Tyne-Wear derby. He was easily the Black Cats' best player last term and with eight goals their joint-highest scorer with Sebastian Larsson and the since-departed Nicklas Bendtner. With just four goals in six pre-season games, and no progress for O'Neill to report in his pursuit of his transfer targets, Sunderland desperately need Sessgnon's invention and goalscoring touch. …

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