Sunderland boss O’Neill eyes recruits after Kilgallon’s Chelsea woe

Matt Kilgallon

Matt Kilgallon

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MATT Kilgallon’s weekend injury has inched Martin O’Neill ever closer to action in the transfer market.

The Sunderland boss admitted after defeat at Chelsea on Saturday – which saw the defender stretchered off with an ankle injury – that his worst fear is doing nothing in the January window and then suffering a string of injuries at the start of February.

So although he has been firm in his assertion that he took the Sunderland job last month without asking a single question about any New Year transfer budget, he concedes that the market must be looked at if only to insure against a calamitous run of knocks.

Kilgallon’s injury adds to a list which includes fellow centre-halves Titus Bramble and Wes Brown, as well as Jack Colback, while Michael Turner, Kieran Richardson, Seb Larsson, Connor Wickham, John O’Shea, Phil Bardsley and Nicklas Bendtner have all been out in recent weeks and have just made returns.

O’Neill said: “The team have done well in my view since I got here and I didn’t take the job on the basis of spending a mountain of money in January.

“But, by the same token, if you get a spate of injuries in February you are left with what you are left with if you haven’t done anything in the window, and that would be a concern.

“So we’ll see what happens.

“Matt is very sore.

“He came down, went over on his ankle and someone landed on top of him, so it is really unfortunate and I feel for him because he’d just come in from the cold, as it were, to get back into the first team.

“It’s really tough for us to take as well as him and at the moment, we don’t know how long he will be out for.”

If he does plunge into the market, he’s unlikely to go for a paceless non-league defender – although he reckoned someone of that ilk might have scored for Sunderland on Saturday!

Rueing a series of missed chances in front of goal which would have earned something from the game for his side, O’Neill pointed out that these were not openings that only a world-class striker could have finished.

“I think of the opportunities we spurned ...” he sighed.

“I know scoring goals is pretty difficult, but it’s not that difficult.

“I’m not so sure that you’d have to worry about getting in a £20million striker to finish those off – a lumbering full-back from four leagues below could have scored some of the chances we created!

“It’s not as though we haven’t scored goals recently.

“In our last league game, we scored four and the best thing about that is that we have been able to share them around – that’s obviously important if you don’t have a 20-goal a season striker.

“But, after Chelsea, I don’t think the immediate reaction is to race out and buy a striker just because we missed those chances.

“We have players who can score goals, they just didn’t take good openings against Chelsea.”