James McFadden happy with deal, says Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill

SHORT-TERM DEAL ... James McFadden, pictured in his Everton days, has signed for Sunderland
SHORT-TERM DEAL ... James McFadden, pictured in his Everton days, has signed for Sunderland
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MARTIN O’Neill says James McFadden’s happy to sign a short-term contract with Sunderland in order to prove his long-term fitness.

The former Everton wide-man has formally agreed to join Sunderland after weeks spent training with the Black Cats.

But he knows that the deal comes with strings attached – the injury-affected 29-year-old has to show he has the fitness to stay the course and contribute to Sunderland’s campaign.

And Sunderland manager O’Neill, who was expecting the deal to be tied up today, said: “James is happy to stay in the short-term because if he doesn’t breakthrough, he won’t feel as though he’s earning what he shouldn’t.

“I think he is enjoying it here, and he’s the one who said he’s happy with the length of the contract.”

The deal grew out of interest Sunderland first expressed in the summer after the Scottish midfielder was released by Everton after an injury-plagued season.

O’Neill said: “I was aware that he had been freed, obviously, but as time goes on, and he hadn’t been picked up, I thought about him.

“There had been contact originally but I didn’t know him at all to speak to and I was just thinking to myself that if we did have any problems with injuries – particularly at a time when Adam Johnson’s move was in the balance – I thought if we could get him properly fit, he might be a valuable addition to the squad.

“Certainly, he’s trained most days and he’s a lot fitter than before, so touch wood he’ll be OK – we’ll just see how it goes.”

If registered by toay’s noon deadline, McFadden could be eligible for tomorrow’s game against Stoke City.

But that game is expected to come too soon for him.

O’Neill said: “He thinks he’s particularly fit, but I just need to be a bit more convinced than that he is.

“He is definitely improving and there are signs every other day that he is coming on.”