JOHN O’SHEA says the arrival of Patrick van Aanholt has come at an opportune moment for Sunderland’s defence.
Dutch international van Aanholt ended Sunderland’s summer-long search for a new left-back last week when he joined the Black Cats in a £1.5million move from Chelsea.
Prior to the capture of the 23-year-old, Sunderland boss Gus Poyet had been forced to use wingers Charis Mavrias and Duncan Watmore, along with youngster David Ferguson, in the back four, with Bosman signing Billy Jones the only recognised full-back in the first-team squad.
But van Aanholt’s signing has given Poyet the chance to work with his defensive unit on the training ground and fine-tune them for the start of the new season two weeks tomorrow.
Captain John O’Shea told the Echo: “It is nice to have natural full-backs in place, especially when you’re doing work on team shape and things.
“Obviously, we like our full-backs to get forward. Billy could have got on the scoresheet the other day.
“That’s something we can work on in training now because it’s important to have that strong team shape.”
But O’Shea has echoed the need for further reinforcements in Sunderland’s squad after the Black Cats lost the services of 12 players at the end of last season.
“We’ll need a bit more help there, not just in defence,” added the Republic of Ireland centre-half.
“The manager has pointed that out, just to get the competition which is needed to bring strong games in training and keep lads on their toes.
“Sometimes these things take time.
“Everyone is working hard to try to get it done as quickly as possible.
“But it obviously helps if we can get everyone settled in and work with them.
“It moves the ship along a bit steadier.”