MARTIN O’Neill believes talk of Danny Graham’s Magpie roots is all but a dead issue after his Sunderland debut at the weekend.
And after watching the £5m new signing make such an instant impact following his 80th-minute introduction against Reading on Saturday, O’Neill also made it clear he will have no qualms fielding Steven Fletcher and Graham as a partnership, rather than just using the latter as a substitute for the former.
When Graham came on, he took up position in the Reading goalmouth behind which 2,000 fans were stationed.
And they made a point of applauding the arrival of the Gateshead-born striker, after he was booed the previous week when he came on as a Swansea sub at the Stadium of Light.
O’Neill said: “I wasn’t worried about the reaction of fans to Danny, and the warm reception he got was what I was expected.
“There’s no getting away from the fact he was a Newcastle supporter as a boy, but he has come here to Sunderland because he wants to come here.
“He’s come come here because he wants to prove a point about what he has to offer, and the first signs from him were good.
“He has a determination about himself.
“Time will tell, but he wants to do well and I think he will do well, and I think he will take confidence from that little cameo he had against Reading.
“He had a good response from our away fans, and I think he will get a good response when he goes back to the Stadium of Light too.
“Once he gets a goal or two, everything will be fine.”
As for the question of the strike partnership, O’Neill added: “Steven Fletcher, I think, could easily play with Danny up front.
“I don’t think it will be a major problem those two playing together.
“They’ll need service from wide positions of course, but I think our wide men will look forward to the chance of supplying them.”