STEVE Bruce believes David Meyler will benefit from remaining in the Championship, as he waits to see whether Martin O’Neill brings the midfielder back to the Stadium of Light this week.
SportMail reported last week how Sunderland boss O’Neill was ready to end Meyler’s loan stint at Hull City after seeing his options depleted by injuries to Lee Cattermole and Phil Bardsley.
If Adam Johnson had failed to shake off a dead leg to feature at Manchester United on Saturday, then O’Neill almost certainly would have invoked the recall clause in Meyler’s loan with the Championship promotion-chasers.
Although Johnson ultimately played, O’Neill is still keen to have Meyler back at his disposal for the start of five festive games in a fortnight at Southampton this weekend.
Hull boss Bruce is understandably eager to keep Meyler at the KC Stadium after the Republic of Ireland international scored his second goal in as many games in Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Huddersfield Town.
The Tigers have taken 10 points from the four games Meyler has started, with Bruce’s men now just a point outside the automatic promotion places.
But the former Sunderland manager believes the loan spell has been beneficial to Meyler too, with the 23-year-old starting just once in the top flight since suffering a second major knee injury in January last year.
Bruce said: “The problem when you’ve got a loan player is what happens at his parent club.
“Sunderland have obviously got two or three injuries, and I suppose we’ll see what happens.
“Martin knows Meyler needs to play because he has been out for two years. Some of the things he is trying here, he wouldn’t get away with in the Premier League.
“You can see he is rusty at times, and gets himself in a tangle. But he is a great thorn in the opposition’s side because of his will to win.
“He has been out for two years, and done everything he can to be a good player, he deserves to be a footballer.”
Sunderland’s midfield has been depleted by injuries to skipper Cattermole and indirectly Phil Bardsley, with Craig Gardner ultimately expected to take the latter’s position at right-back, even though Carlos Cuellar featured there at Old Trafford.
With Jack Colback forced to cover for the absent Danny Rose against the league leaders, O’Neill was left with just Gardner, Seb Larsson and David Vaughan as central midfield options.
And after speaking with Bruce last Friday, O’Neill is still likely to recall Meyler this week in time for Saturday’s crunch clash against fourth bottom Southampton.
O’Neill certainly left little room for doubt over his intentions when he spoke last week.
“I’m thinking about recalling David Meyler for our Christmas programme,” he said. “In fact, that looks like being a certainty.
“I’ve spoken to Steve Bruce about it, and he understands the situation.
“He knows we’re having a look at it, and he appreciates the position.”