Lamine Kone: Why Sunderland’s defence won’t miss me when I leave

John O'Shea
John O'Shea
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Lamine Kone has total faith in John O’Shea and Papy Djilobodji to hold the fort at Sunderland during his international absence.

The powerful defender will be off in the new year to the African Cup of Nations after he was yesterday named in Ivory Coast’s provisional 24-man squad.

Lamine Kone

Lamine Kone

Kone has formed a strong central defensive alliance with Djilobodji, the unit playing a key role in the club’s turnaround in fortunues.

Djilobodji is not expcted to feature for Senegal, despite his current form in the Premier League.

After some uncertain moments in his early days on Wearside, the £8million summer capture from Chelsea has found his feet in the top flight.

And Kone has no worries over his partner or the entire team.

“My relationship with Papy is good and the realtionship with the whole team is happy,” said the 27-year-old.

“It will not to be too bad, our captain is a very good player and he will play.

“I have played with Sheasy this season and he’s a good defender, he will help Papy.

“Papy is a good player, we work every day at training and he plays very well and he’s a good guy.

“The first games were difficult for him but now he is playing well – he had good games against Leicester, Chelsea, Watford and Man United, I am very happy for him.”

While Sunderland l;ost 3-1 at Manchester United on Boxing Day, the scoreline was a little harsh on a defence who performed well, individually and as a unit.

And Kone hopes that form can be carried into Saturday’s massive bottom-of-the-table showdown at Burnley.

“We did good work against United, Papy, me, Billy, Pat and Jordan,” said the January transfer signing from Lorient in France.

“All the defenders had good games against a very good team.

“It was disappointing we let in three goals but two came from mistakes.

“The feeling and spirit in our squad is very good.

“We played against a very good team at Man United and I know Burnley are a good team but I hope we can win there.

“It is really important for us to take the three points.”

Kone has recovered from a rocky early season period and has produced some of the form he showed during the club’s survival fight last season.

He will be able to play at Turf Moor on New Year’s Eve and then against Liverpool on January 2.

Ivory Coast start their ACN campaign against Togo on January 16 and he could miss anything up to six Cats fixtures, should his country get to the final on February 5.

There are two FA Cup weekends, Burnley at home on January 7 with a potential fourth-round date scheduled for the 28th.

Sunderland, who will lose Wahbi Khazri (Tunisia) and Didier Ndong (Gabon), have Premier games against Stoke (h), West Brom (a), Spurs (h) and Crystal Palace (a) during the tournament.