MARTIN O’Neill was furious at the two soft goals Sunderland conceded at the weekend but says he recognises how well the defence has done overall during his time at the club.
The Black Cats have kept three clean sheets in their last five games and the Sunderland manager accepts that not only have they put in good displays but have had to do it with regularly changing personnel.
“We’ve had to mix and match our back four over the last few months and in that sense we’ve done very well,” he said.
“We had Titus Bramble at one stage as a regular before he got injured and has not played so far this year.
“We had Wes Brown as a first-choice but then he’s been injured too.
“John O’Shea was out injured for some time.
“And I think it’s great credit to those at the back that we’ve had a few clean sheets.
“Simon Mignolet has had something do do with that of course. He’s played well and the fact that he wasn’t playing at the weekend was no reflection on him – we just wanted to look at Craig Gordon, who also played very well.
“We’ll just have to see what happens when Wes and Titus are fit again – Titus has been involved in full training with us again after overcoming the Achilles injury and Wes wants to play some part in the season before its end if possible.
“We’ve had a lot of changes to make at the back but it has still produced some excellent displays.
“It’s the nature of the game that occasionally you get performances that can disappoint.
“But overall I think we’ve performed well and it’s those performances that helped us get away from the bottom of the table and allowed us to start climbing the table.”