How long will Sunderland stalwart play on for? Veteran defender opens up on his future plans

John O'Shea
John O'Shea
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Veteran defender John O’Shea is preparing for his future but insists he wants to carry on playing for as long as possible.

The 35-year-old, among a host of Sunderland players out of contract in the summer, takes stock at the end of every season.

Despite his advancing years the desire from the Sunderland skipper to continue playing remains strong, provided he keeps fit and enjoys his football.

With one eye on his future, O’Shea is doing his coaching badges should he decide to go into coaching or management once his successful playing career comes to an end.

But for now O’Shea says the passion for playing continues to burn strong, with the defender a key player under David Moyes.

O’Shea said: “I see how I am at the end of every season and take it from there.

“But while I’m fit and well and enjoying my football I just want to play as long as I can.

“I’m doing my coaching badges so that option is there if I decide to go into coaching or management, but I’m thinking about other things as well.

“It’s important to be prepared because it soon comes around.”

Ex-Manchester United centre-back O’Shea is mid-way through his sixth season at the Stadium of Light after swapping the Theatre of Dreams for Wearside.

The Republic of Ireland stalwart won 15 major honours at Old Trafford, including five league titles and the 2008 Champions League before joining Sunderland, were he has since made 180 league appearances.

O’Shea, Victor Anichebe, Jan Kirchhoff and Seb Larsson are among those in the final six months of their contracts.

Moyes has already made his stance clear, insisting talks with any Sunderland players out of contract this summer are not on his agenda until the club’s Premier League fate is known.

Sunderland are bottom of the Premier League, six points from safety heading into the final 11 games of the season - starting with Burnley at home on Saturday.

O’Shea, meanwhile, was this week included in Martin O’Neill’s 39-man provisional Republic of Ireland squad ahead of the upcoming international break, alongside January signing Darron Gibson.

Currently unbeaten after four games of their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, Ireland sit at the top of Group D.

And O’Shea, who has won 116 caps for his country, says his hunger for international success with the Republic is strong, with the defender dreaming of appearing at a World Cup tournament.

“It’s still there,” added O’Shea.

“When we finished the Euros last time I spoke with the manager about it, once he gave me the indication he wanted me to carry on that was good enough for me.”

“Let’s continue this amazing start to the campaign – there are some very difficult games to come but we’ve given ourselves a fantastic chance to qualify for the World Cup.

“Having not been at a World Cup myself, it’s something to drive me on.”

* The PFA’s 4 The Player Magazine is available to download on the 20th March from www.thepfa.com