MARTIN O’Neill says he is not unduly worried about Stephane Sessegnon’s struggle for early-season form.
Sunderland’s current Player of the Season has been a shadow of his former self in the opening few matches of the campaign, culminating in his display against Liverpool where his lack of form was painfully clear to a 40,000 plus home crowd.
It was hoped that the Benin international – short of match fitness after a pre-season disrupted by an ankle injury – would improve with each game as his sharpness improved.
There’s no doubt that an in-form Sessegnon can transform Sunderland’s fortunes on the pitch and O’Neill admitted after the form of last season’s joint top-scorer in recent weeks had been “frustrating”.
But the Black Cats’ boss is confident that the striker is simply undergoing a blip and will soon be back to his best.
“It’s not happening for Stephane at the moment,” said O’Neill, who handed Sessegnon an improved three-year deal last month.
“We know what he is capable of doing.
“I don’t have any major concerns over him over the course of time, although of course I would like more output from him at this minute.
“But it has been frustrating for him – and for everybody – I wouldn’t deny that.
“Even at his best, sometimes he might give the ball away when he is running and trying to be creative, but you don’t mind that so much.
“In recent weeks, though, he has been miscontrolling the ball and giving it away sloppily.”
Sessegnon completed his first 90 minutes in the league this season in last weekend’s 1-1 draw against Liverpool at the Stadium of Light and the manager hopes that that run-out will go a long way to improving his sharpness.