Sunderland’s central midfield additions will show their real worth once they are up to speed with the Premier League, believes Black Cats skipper John O’Shea.
Yann M’Vila and Ola Toivonen have already made an impact in a Sunderland shirt after arriving on season-long loans from Rubin Kazan and Rennes respectively.
French international M’Vila has arguably been Sunderland’s stand-out performer of the campaign so far, while Toivonen made the Black Cats’ equaliser at Aston Villa on his debut a fortnight ago.
Yet the pair both remain short on match fitness.
M’Vila had gone seven months without a competitive game before he arrived at the Stadium of Light and Swedish international Toivonen was limited to just one substitute’s appearance for Rennes before being reunited with his ex-PSV Eindhoven boss, Dick Advocaat.
“Yann is going from strength to strength with us,” said O’Shea, back in training at the Academy of Light after helping the Republic of Ireland to back-to-back Euro 2016 qualifying victories.
“It was a tremendous strike at Aston Villa and he’s getting better by the game, now he’s getting used to the Premier League.
“He’s starting to show his quality.
“Ola is an experienced international player too.
“There were plenty of tackles flying around him at Villa, so he knew he was in a game, but he showed some lovely link-up play and that’s going to be important for us.
“He could be a good link-up man for us.”
Defender O’Shea has fresh faces both in front of him and alongside him after partnering summer signing Younes Kaboul for the first time at Villa 12 days ago.
Dick Advocaat has already used three different combinations at centre-half this season in a bid to cure Sunderland’s defensive troubles after shipping 11 goals in the opening four Premier League games.
O’Shea hopes he can now begin to develop a double-act with Kaboul, as Sunderland search for their first clean sheet of the campaign against winless Spurs at the Stadium of Light on Sunday.
“Hopefully we can improve on it as much as we can,” added the 33-year-old. “There’s been a couple of changes since the first few games.
“You want to work on it, not just as centre-backs, but as a whole back four and goalkeeper.
“We kept plenty of clean sheets last season and we want to get back to that.”