Sunderland’s John O’Shea forgets relegation worries while away with Republic of Ireland

Chelsea's Diego Costa (left) battles for the ball with Sunderland's John O'Shea during the Barclays Premier League match at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland.
Chelsea's Diego Costa (left) battles for the ball with Sunderland's John O'Shea during the Barclays Premier League match at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland.

JOHN O’Shea insists he will put Sunderland’s problems to the back of his mind and concentrate fully on Republic of Ireland this week, writes Ross Gregory.

O’Shea linked up with the Irish squad on Sunday night to prepare for their Euro 16 qualifier against Poland on Sunday.

The Sunderland skipper comes into the game after another tumultuous week with the Black Cats, which saw Gus Poyet sacked after the 4-0 defeat against Aston Villa and replaced as head coach by Dick Advocaat.

The Dutchman’s first game in charge ended in a 1-0 defeat against West Ham United which leaves Sunderland still on the verge of the relegation zone, just a point above third-bottom Burnley.

A number of other players in Martin O’Neill’s Ireland squad have relegation worries hanging over them but O’Shea insists that those issues are forgotten when the Irish party meet up.

“You have to,” says O’Shea. “It’s just one of those things.

“You’d love to be coming in having scored a hat-trick or winning 5-0 or 6-0, it just depends on how the games go for you.

“I can’t remember what the score was (for Sunderland) before we came in for the Germany game for example, it just happens like that and it’s frustrating.

“But because of the group we have, a club atmosphere, as soon as you come into the team hotel and meet the security lads, they soon have you thinking about the game coming up.

“You can’t switch off, you have to be fully focused as that’s how you get results.”

O’Shea’s form has been solid for both club and country over the last 12 months, including picking up his 100th cap for Ireland against Germany in October

And he was recognised for his performances by being crowned as the Republic’s Senior International Player of the Year for 2014 on Sunday night.

O’Shea then joined the rest of O’Neill’s 29 man squad in training in Malahide yesterday morning as they build up to Sunday night’s game against surprise Group D leaders Poland.

Ireland sit fourth in the standings, level on points with Germany and Scotland. And O’Shea says in order for the Republic to qualify for the tournament in France next summer, their home form must improve – starting on Sunday with the game at the Aviva Stadium, in Dublin.

“If we are going to qualify, it [home record] has to change, simple as that,” the 33-year-old centre-half said.

“We had a few games, the Austria match (March 2013) in particular, when you are in a winning position and you have to be clinical. Hopefully we will do that.

“We’re under no illusions, we know the result they got against Germany but Scotland could have got a win out in Poland.

“There’s a lot of twists and turns to come.”

– ROSS GREGORY