MARTIN O’NEILL is relieved Sunderland can unleash a fresh Fraizer Campbell at Middlesbrough tonight.
Campbell is likely to return to the Black Cats starting XI at the Riverside for the FA Cup fourth round replay after being left on the bench at Stoke City on Saturday.
Sunderland manager O’Neill felt it was too much for Campbell to feature for a third time within a week after returning to the first team following a 17-month gap.
It proved the perfect game for the 24-year-old forward to miss, with the snow conditions making running with the ball largely redundant and Sunderland securing a fifth win in six matches without needing to introduce the former Manchester United man.
O’Neill told the Echo: “Fraizer very much comes back into our thoughts tonight.
“I didn’t really know what the conditions would be like at Stoke when I made my decision.
“But eventually it worked out fine.
“We’ve been able to give him a bit of a rest, although when you’re a substitute it’s not as if you’re removed completely from things.
“I’m hoping that the rest will have helped him.
“I took into consideration he’d had two games in quick succession before Stoke and I took on board the views of our medical staff here.
“At one stage, he nearly got on when I didn’t think David Meyler was going to get up again from a challenge in the second half.
“But I was pleased we got through the game without risking him.”
David Meyler took Campbell’s place to form a five-man midfield at the Britannia Stadium, with the Irishman the obvious contender to miss out tonight despite impressing O’Neill on his first start of the season.
“I was very pleased with him,” added the Sunderland boss.
“The lad’s had horrendous injuries to contend with and he’s just fighting his way back.”