JOHN O’Shea has warned Sunderland to beware the danger posed by his Republic of Ireland team-mate Shane Long at the Stadium of Light tomorrow.
The West Brom striker has scored two goals in the Baggies’ first six games but O’Shea reckons the 24-year-old has the potential to have a tremendously successful Premier League season.
And he says Sunderland will have to be on guard against a player who can be a match-winner from nothing.
“I’ve got the greatest admiration for Shane because I’ve seen at first-hand on international duty just how good he is,” said the former Manchester United defender.
“I think most people who know him will acknowledge that he’s always been a player of tremendous ability, it’s just a question of whether the attitude has always been right.
“But he’s maturing all the time and I think he’s arrived at a situation where attitude now matches the ability.”
Certainly Long seems to have come of age in this year.
He scored 28 goals in 58 games for club and country last season and was voted Reading’s Player of the Year ahead of a record-breaking £6.5 move to Albion this summer.
“He’s certainly a player we’ll need to be wary of on Saturday,” said O’Shea. “But Peter Odemwingie is also a dangerous player for them up front and they could form a good partnership this season.
“I think that Shane could have gone to a number of clubs in the close season and I certainly think that West Brom have done well to get him.”
O’Shea says he is looking forward to tomorrow’s game in what has been a difficult week for the club on and off the pitch.
He told the Echo: “The Norwich performance and result was really difficult for all of us and it’s probably the best thing that there is relatively little time between that game and this one coming up on Saturday.
“We’re all keen to put Norwich behind us as quickly as possible and tomorrow’s game is the perfect opportunity to show that we can do that.
“West Brom are a good team and I don’t think there league position does them justice at the moment but Sunderland should fear no one at the Stadium of Light and we want to go out there and get back-to-back home victories to give ourselves and the fans a lift.”