KEVIN Ball was relieved to see Sunderland produce a Premier League performance last night to overcome League One opposition on their way to the last 16 of the Capital One Cup.
The interim head coach admitted he could not be entirely sure what display he would get from the players in their third round tie against Peterborough after the turmoil they have been through over the weekend which saw them lose to West Brom and then lose head coach Paolo Di Canio 24 hours later.
And he was proud of the way they handled themselves to go through into the next round of the competition on the back of an impressive and determined team effort.
“We played good football and created a lot of decent chances and I thought it was a really pleasing performance
“We have to give credit to Peterborough because they came up with a good game plan and you can see why they’re at the top of the table.
“They made a good game of it.
“But the way the players went about it was very professional.
“They started the game very well, played with a decent tempo, starting the job fast and quick and played with a real focus and desire which saw us come through a potentially very difficult game.”
In the end, Sunderland ran out comfortable winners and Ball’s name was chanted from the terraces by supporters who have been put through the wringer so far this season.
“It was nice to hear the supporters singing my name,” admitted Ball.
“I was conscious of it and it felt good to hear but they gave great support to the team as well and that’s what pleased me the most.”
Now though, Ball will turn his attention to this weekend’s game against Liverpool.
And his first job will be checking on the fitness of skipper John O’Shea, who was an enforced substitution just after the hour-mark in the Peterborough game.
“John had a slight niggle and we took him off as a precaution,” he revealed.
“In an ideal world we would rather have left him on but it seemed sensible to take him off, particularly when we had a player in Valentin Roberge who was keen to come on, which didn’t turn out too badly, considering he scored!”
One player who is obviously out of Sunday’s game against the Reds is Steven Fletcher who dislocated his shoulder in last weekend’s game against West Brom.
But the club are yet to discover the full extent of the damage.
“We still haven’t got an update,” said Ball.
“And that’s not to palm you off - we’re still in the dark about it at this stage - but it goes without saying that we wish him the speediest of recoveries.”