Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

I'll Play in Any Position for the Boss.But I Think He Prefers Me in Central Defence; John O'Shea Wants a Healthy Squad and Competition for Places

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

I'll Play in Any Position for the Boss.But I Think He Prefers Me in Central Defence; John O'Shea Wants a Healthy Squad and Competition for Places

Article excerpt

Byline: James Hunter Sports Writer

EMERGENCY midfielder John O'Shea has proved age is no bar to versatility - but insists the quicker Sunderland are back up to strength the better it will be.

Skipper O'Shea has spent the vast majority of his career at centre-back, but the Black Cats' injury problems - they had Jan Kirchhoff, Lee Cattermole and long-term absentee Seb Larsson all missing - left boss David Moyes with little option but to press him into action as a defensive midfielder for last weekend's opening day game at Manchester City.

O'Shea has played in that more advanced role before, occasionally for Sunderland but more often earlier in his career at Manchester United.

At 35 - and against Man City's multi-talented midfielders - O'Shea did a decent job at the Etihad Stadium and could be asked to reprise that role when Middlesbrough visit Wearside on Sunday, although new signing Paddy McNair is another alternative now he has had a week's training with the Black Cats.

Hwever, in the longer-term O'Shea says Moyes will be keen to either have Kirchhoff and Cattermole back available, or recruit reinforcements for that area.

"At different stages at Man U there were spells when I played in the holding role in the Champions League - I've played maybe 20-25 games there," said O'Shea.

"I am used to it but I haven't played there for a few years - I have more been in central defence.

"It needed to be done, though, and it's always been the case I know the manager trusts me to fill in if needed.

"I can't see it being a permanent fixture, though!

"I'm not going to second-guess the manager but I think central defence will be the main area for me.

"However, if the manager needs me to play anywhere I will always help out. Hopefully, we will get the bodies back as quickly as possibly because we saw last season when we had a healthy squad the competition kept everyone on their toes and that was reflected in performances. …

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