Martin O’Neill hopes Stephane Sessegnon can resume his resurgence at Norwich City this weekend, writes Chris Young.
Although Sessegnon had minimal impact in Tuesday’s stalemate with QPR, the Benin international shone in Saturday’s defeat to West Brom, where he netted for the second time in as many games.
O’Neill has persevered with Sessegnon this season, despite his troubles over the opening three months of the campaign, with last year’s Player of the Season relegated to the bench just once – for October’s draw at Stoke City.
And with the 28-year-old now finally beginning to emerge as an attacking threat, O’Neill is eager for the forward to maintain his return to form.
O’Neill told the Echo: “At this minute, he’s really important to us.
“I thought he was really excellent against West Brom. He’s getting a bit of form back.
“I said a couple of weeks ago that he should be able to get double figures because he spends good time on the pitch.
“The only time he’s been rested was at Stoke City and that’ll happen to everybody at some stage or other.
“We have our own system of rotation because the squad’s not that big.
“Overall, it’s been encouraging for him.”
O’Neill agrees that Sessegnon’s stunning strike at Fulham 12 days ago provided the former Paris St Germain man with a significant confidence boost.
But the Sunderland boss believes Sessegnon’s display at Everton the previous weekend proved to be the watershed moment.
Although Sessegnon missed a glorious early chance for the Black Cats, he was a menace for the Everton defence – arguably more so than he was at Craven Cottage.
“I think the goals help enormously,” added O’Neill.
“If you get a goal and a stunning goal like he got, it gives you a big lift.
“But I thought his performance against Everton, particularly in the first half, was the sign of him really coming back.
“He was causing them problems and the Everton management team were getting anxious, I could hear them talking about someone picking Sessegnon up more quickly.
“He missed a great chance for us early on in the game and it didn’t stop him producing a really good performance.
“Interestingly, he scored the great goal at Fulham in a game where I felt his performance wasn’t that brilliant.
“Of course it’s given him a big boost.”