Simon Grayson has backed Lamine Kone to fight his way back into the Sunderland team, but admits that he feels vindicated by John O’Shea’s performance at Preston.
Kone was dropped for the Deepdale trip a fortnight ago, following the 5-2 drubbing at Ipswich four days earlier, a team display littered with individual errors.
The Black Cats then conceded twice in three minutes against Preston, but O’Shea’s display impressed his manager, who will also consider recalling Marc Wilson – for tomorrow’s visit of QPR – now that the Irishman has recovered from a groin injury.
Grayson said: “Marc Wilson has been out for a couple of games, Lamine was left out at Preston purely for tactical reasons, and we decided to go with John and Tyias (Browning) and they played very well.
“It was no reflection on Lamine really. We went for a team to get us a result and a performance, and we got that – unfortunately we just didn’t quite get the win.
“With John O’Shea, you know what you are going to get. He’s an experienced player, he’s played at the highest level at international and club football, and I just felt his experience and his voice would be a big help to everybody and that was proved on the day.”
Grayson will be tempted to name the same defence that secured the point at Preston, though Bryan Oviedo will be in contention to start after returning from international duty.
Kone faces a fight to win back his place, but Grayson says he has responded well to being dropped last time out.
He said: “He’s been good. He’s trained all this week – he came back from Mali on Monday or Tuesday. He’s been fine, I spoke to him about it all, he accepts the decision like every other player.
“I make a decision on what I think is best for the team. I think it was proved right to a certain degree.
“All he needs to is keep working hard and, if he gets picked on Saturday show what he can do.
“I don’t think he’s been to blame for many of the goals, to be fair.
“Individually, we’ve made mistakes and collectively we have to be better and harder to play against.”