MARTIN O’Neill has explained his thinking behind the recall of David Meyler from Hull City.
The Republic of Ireland midfielder was allowed to take part in the Tigers’ game against Derby County last night – a 2-1 win – before his loan was brought to an end.
It meant he missed out on today’s game against Southampton but will be available for the Black Cats’ Boxing Day clash against Manchester City.
The move came as a disappointment to former Sunderland boss Steve Bruce, now in charge at the Kingston Stadium, who has seen the 23-year-old become an influential player in just a handful of games for the Humberside outfit.
But a week after the Echo revealed O’Neill was pondering at what point he should recall Meyler this month, the Sunderland manager decided that he simply could not go into a packed Christmas schedule with no real cover in midfield after skipper Lee Cattermole’s knee ligament injury.
O’Neill opted to let Meyler remain with ex-Sunderland boss Steve Bruce at Hull for last weekend’s victory over Huddersfield and again for last night’s trip to Derby, but that was his final game for the Championship promotion hopefuls – cutting short a loan deal that was due to end on January 1.
O’Neill told the Echo: “I’ve looked at David Meyler’s situation and while it’s great he’s playing and doing very well for Hull, I spoke to Steve about it last week.
“They played last night and it is a case of definitely bringing David back for the Christmas programme.
“It’s something we’ll have to do.
“It gave David a chance to play last night, but we need him over Christmas.”
Meyler has impressed during his seven outings for the Tigers after Bruce spent several months pursuing the Republic of Ireland international.
Bruce certainly believes Meyler will have benefited from regular first-team football after starting just once in the Premier League since damaging his knee ligaments for a second time in January 2011.
“Martin knows Meyler needs to play because he has been out for two years,” said Bruce earlier this week.
“Some of the things he is trying here, he wouldn’t get away with in the Premier League.
“You can see he is rusty at times and gets himself in a tangle. But he is a great thorn in the opposition’s side because of his will to win.
“He has been out for two years and done everything he can to be a good player, he deserves to be a footballer.”