SUNDERLAND new boy James McFadden could struggle to make an appearance for the Black Cats before his short-term contract expires.
A hamstring injury sustained in training on Thursday has sidelined the Scotland international, who has signed until the end of January and would have been expected to feature as an over-age player in tonight’s Barclays Under-21 Premier League showdown with Southampton at Eppleton CW (7pm).
Manager O’Neill said: “I don’t know if we will see James in the team any time soon because on Thursday he pulled up with a hamstring.
“I hope it is not too serous, but he was certainly feeling it. So that is a setback.
“It is a real shame because James has worked exceptionally hard on his fitness and was enjoying the training.
“We have enjoyed having him because he is a really fine lad. I think he wants to do well.
“James has not accepted the length of the contract, but it was as much for him because I think he felt if he had not made an impact by the end of January, particularly with the number of games coming up, then he might need to look elsewhere.
“He needs to have a chance and I hope the hamstring is not too serious.
“You have to remember he did not play often for Everton last season.
“Incredibly one of his few games was against us, so he does need time to get up to speed and ready to play in the Premier League.”