Martin O’Neill excited by Wembley lure ahead of FA Cup clash

BIG CHALLENGE ... Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill.
BIG CHALLENGE ... Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill.

THE lure of playing at Wembley will be enough to ensure every player gives every ounce of effort at the Stadium of Light this evening, says Martin O’Neill.

The Black Cats boss is convinced that the prospect of playing at the home of football in the semi-finals will be all the incentive Sunderland players need at the Stadium of Light tonight for the FA Cup quarter-final replay against Everton.

Unfortunately, he says exactly the same incentive applies to Sunderland’s opponents this evening!

“You’ve got to be motivated by the idea of playing at Wembley should you progress and I’m confident my players will be.

“Everton’s players though will share exactly the same motivation and that should ensure it will be a game where both sides really give their all – just as they did in the original tie at Goodison Park.”

O’Neill knows what it is like to play at the grand old ground, although in his days it was the Twin Towers, rather than the revamped version.

“I’ve played at Wembley six or seven times, with Nottingham Forest and Northern Ireland and it was great,” he recalled.

“Games at Wembley are always special occasions – whether they were at the old stadium or now at the new one.

“And it is a huge incentive for the players to know that if they beat Everton tonight, they will have the chance to play at Wembley in the semi-final.

“I’ve already said that, personally, I am not a fan of having the semis at Wembley, but the fact is they are staged there and this is an opportunity for players to experience that.

“Despite me being a traditionalist, I have heard reports that the semi-final atmospheres there last season were absolutely terrific.”