MARTIN O’Neill says new signing Kader Mangane should not be judged by a leg-breaking tackle almost four years ago.
Mangane was suspended from the French League for two-and-a-half months in March, 2009, after a stomach-churning challenge on Valenciennes midfielder Jonathan Lacourt.
The then Rennes centre-half slid in on Lacourt with a high tackle above the ankle, which saw his opponent’s leg cave in under the weight of the contact, resulting in a fractured tibia and fibia – injuries that kept him sidelined for more than three years.
Sunderland boss O’Neill has seen video footage of the challenge and is aware of the controversy it caused in France.
But O’Neill doesn’t believe there was any malice from the 6ft 5in defender after the Senegal international arrived on loan at Sunderland until the end of the season.
O’Neill told the Echo: “I know about the nasty challenge he made and it was indeed a nasty one.
“When you actually see it, he’s clearly caught the fellow, but I don’t think he meant to hurt the boy.”
Sunderland will have the option to make Mangane’s move permanent next summer, if the on-loan Al-Hilal man impresses at the Stadium of Light.
But O’Neill’s principle focus is on ensuring Sunderland have sufficient cover for the second half of the season. The Sunderland boss made a similar move last January after bringing in defensive pair Sotirios Kyrgiakos and Wayne Bridge on loan.
Neither ultimately proved to be a success, yet O’Neill is aware of the ramifications if Sunderland are hit by injuries.
“Krygiakos came last season at a time when we needed him and Wayne Bridge,” added O’Neill.
“That was a short-term thing and I know he didn’t play particularly well in the FA Cup game we lost against Everton, but those things can happen. We will need all the players available between now and the end of the season.”
Mangane could make his Sunderland debut in Saturday’s trip to fourth bottom Wigan after the centre-half, along with fellow new boy Alfred N’Diaye, was ineligible to feature in Tuesday night’s FA Cup defeat to Bolton.