Sunderland will play it canny with Republic of Ireland defender John O’Shea

Captain Marvel: John O'Shea. PIcture by FRANK REID

Captain Marvel: John O'Shea. PIcture by FRANK REID

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David Moyes admits Sunderland are a stronger side with John O’Shea on the field – but says the Premier League battlers must play a canny game with their skipper.

O’Shea made only his third Premier League start this season on Saturday when the Black Cats drew 1-1 with West Brom.

I just think where we are at at the moment we need his feeling of calmness and understanding of the position

DAVID MOYES

His recall followed the harrowing late giveaway to Crystal Palace seven days earlier when a 2-0 lead evaporated into a 3-2 defeat.

The Republic of Ireland veteran steadied the ship though Moyes pointed out he’d be unlikely to be able to play week-in, week-out.

But the Black Cats boss knows how vital he can be.

“Very important,” said Moyes.

“I just think where we are at at the moment we need his feeling of calmness, understanding of the position.

“John has been a really good player during his career and he did a good job for us and he’ll continue to do a good job for us because we’ll need him.

“But we also need to know that he’s 34-years-old now and not 24, so we have to just decide when we can introduce people who we think might be the future as we go along.”

Moyes was being kind to the skipper – he’s actually 35!

However, whatever the number, O’Shea is paramount for the Cats.

He is currently away with Ireland, ex-Cats boss Martin O’Neill naming him in his squad for the World Cup qualifying fixtures against Georgia on Thursday and in Moldova three days later.

On his return, Sunderland play back-to-back matches against their relegation zone rivals, Stoke City a week on Saturday and West Ham the week after.