GUS POYET has paid tribute to his captain after hailing John O’Shea as the perfect leader of Sunderland’s troops.
O’Shea extended his stay at the Stadium of Light this week after penning a new two-year contract which will see the Republic of Ireland international remain on Wearside until 2017.
The former Manchester United man was appointed Sunderland skipper by Poyet’s predecessor Paolo Di Canio, but the current head coach cannot speak highly enough of the defender’s leadership attributes.
Poyet said: “It’s the whole thing, definitely the influence of Manchester United because he was there playing with top players, and I am sure he took things from different characters.
“He cannot imitate – he cannot be his previous captain Roy Keane – but he can imitate other ones. It’s just to learn and put what you are into the job.
“He does it naturally, I can tell you, there are no issues.
“He’s always there, he’s always on time, he is always fit - or most of the time - he looks after himself, he represents the club well, the players. That’s why he is the captain.
“You have different types of captain at different clubs, sometimes because of how good they are and they have to be the captain, sometimes because they lead by example. With the package he’s got, he represents us on the pitch.
“He’s a very good link between the staff and the players on the pitch. He knows what we want, he understands – it doesn’t mean he agrees, but he understands, and that’s important for us because he knows most of the time what we need.”
O’Shea has been an ever-present for a Sunderland defence this season which has conceded just seven goals in seven Premier League outings.
But it was his fortunes at the other end of the pitch which stole the headlines this week after grabbing a last-gasp equaliser for the Republic of Ireland in their 1-1 draw in Germany.
Ireland’s next opponents in the Euro 2016 qualification programme are Scotland, where O’Shea will come up against Sunderland team-mate Steven Fletcher.
Fletcher netted twice in Sunderland’s last outing before the international break - the 3-1 win over Stoke - and continued to impress for his country in their win over Georgia and draw in Poland.
“He performed very well with Scotland as well without scoring,” added Poyet.
“He was very important for the two games, so he looks all right. He looks happy and that’s good.
“The mental side is for me right now the most important one. If you are right mentally, then the technical side of things, recovery, whatever you can talk about, it’s easier.”