O’Neill to make late call on Sunderland side to face Newcastle

LOAN DEAL? Connor Wickham
LOAN DEAL? Connor Wickham

MARTIN O’Neill will decide today whether David Vaughan, Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-won will be included in Kevin Ball’s Under 21 Reserve side for this evening’s derby against Newcastle United at the Sports Direct Arena.

Vaughan is on the comeback trail having had his pre-season disrupted by a hernia problem which required two operations.

But he played as an over-age player in the Reserves’ recent 2-2 draw at Spurs and also played for Wales in their recent international against Serbia.

O’Neill said: “I was pleased to see David get 45 minutes under his belt for his country – at the moment he needs as many minutes on the pitch as he can get.

“He’ll come into contention for the Reserves game but we’re continuing to monitor him and will make a decision on the day.”

Sunderland appreciate the importance of a derby game at any level and because of that, both England Under 21 man Wickham and South Korean international Ji could come into consideration for the match.

Neither striker has played a minute of Sunderland’s first-team season so far and both will be craving competitive action.

Meanwhile, Newcastle United Under 21s manager Willie Donachie is confident his young players will give “everything they’ve got” tonight.

With a number of United’s young players likely to travel to Madeira for Thursday’s Europa League fixture against Maritimo, Donachie is expected to field an inexperienced side.

Striker Adam Campbell – who netted a hat-trick in United’s season-opener against Tottenham Hotspur – is expected to start.

Campbell will be hoping to earn a place on Wednesday’s flight to Madeira – having made his debut away to Atromitos in the qualifying round of the Europa League – by putting in a good show against Sunderland in a game whose importance is understood by Donachie.

“Everybody wants to win that – even at reserve level it means a lot to the fans and the players, especially the local lads,” he said. “They all want to beat them badly.

“It depends a lot on the strength of the teams that are put out. If it’s two even teams, it’ll be a great game, which I hope it is.

“But it’ll give our young lads a chance. It’s the only way you’ll learn – through experience.

“I know our lads will give everything they’ve got, especially in that game. They’ll learn from it, and that’s the main thing.”

Admission to the East Stand is free for season-ticket holders and members on production of their cards.

Otherwise, entry is £3 for adults and £1 for concessions. Kick-off is 7pm.