Sunderlansd boss wants clean bill of health from internationals

WORRY ... Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill.
WORRY ... Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill.

SUNDERLAND have a host of players involved in World Cup qualifiers during the current break in the league progamme – with Martin O’Neill admitting he’s desperate for them to return fit and well.

The Ulsterman sent off some of his biggest names to do battle for their respective countries in the wake of Sunday’s disappointing 1-1 draw with 10-man Norwich knowing they face a battle for Premier League survival on their return.

Stephane Sessegnon will be involved in a Benin side facing Algeria next Tuesday, while Simon Mignolet could be involved in Belgium’s two matches against Macedonia on Friday, and in Brussels on Tuesday.

Seb Larsson will be up against club team-mates Keiren Westwood, John O’Shea and James McClean when Sweden take on the Republic of Ireland on Friday in Solna and the midfielder will then travel to Zilnia as the Swedes face Slovakia next Tuesday.

The Republic of Ireland meanwhile will go on to host Austria on Tuesday.

David Vaughan is part of the Welsh side facing Steven Fletcher Scotland at Hampden Park before Wales host Croatia at the Liberty Stadium.

Sunderland also have two players on England Under 21 duty – Connor Wickham and on-loan Spurs defender Danny Rose – who will both be available for England’s game against Romania U21s at Wycombe Wanderers on Thursday, and Austria U21s at Brighton’s Amex Stadium on Monday.

In the circumstances, O’Neill will hope for a clean bill of health after losing defender Carlos Cuellar to injury during the clash with the Canaries.

He said: “It will be a worry for us because we don’t have that many to choose from. That’s been a situation that has appeared all season, so I would obviously be concerned about the players going away.

“Some of them have two matches to play as well – a lot of them have – so I will just wait to see when they come back again.

“With Carlos Cuellar getting an injury, our concern is the players. We just need every able-bodied person around for the last eight games.”