MARTIN O’Neill says Fraizer Campbell’s dip in form over the last couple of weeks has been entirely predictable.
And he says he prefers to focus on the boost the England international has given Sunderland since his return, rather than the 24-year-old’s occasional struggle.
Campbell’s poorest game came against Blackburn Rovers midweek, in stark contrast to the scintillating form which marked his return after a 17-month absence with cruciate ligament injuries.
But O’Neill said of the striker’s dip: “That hasn’t surprised me at all – I felt it was almost inevitable.
“The only person who would be really disappointed with it, would be the player himself.
“But he’s done incredibly well to have got back so successfully and done what he’s done so far.
“He’s had an incredible reintroduction into the game.
“He came on as a substitute against Middlesbrough and scored a wonderful goal to keep us in the cup, then followed that up with an excellent performance and another goal in the game against Norwich.”
The manager will look at how he might best continue Campbell’s first-team rehabilitation between now and the end of the season and the return of Stephane Sessegnon from a three-game ban today will undoubtedly help ease the burden on the young forward.
But O’Neill is just pleased that Campbell has come back so well, so far.
“You just knew that it would all catch up with him eventually,” he said.
“And that’s all that’s happened. It’s perfectly natural.
“But the very fact that he has come through these games without suffering a recurrence of the injury is good news.
“And I know that the way things are going, we’ll see the best of him in the not too distant future.”
SEE Saturday’s Mail for more Sunderland news