STEVE GUPPY is set to become a permanent member of Martin O’Neill’s coaching staff to continue his one-on-one tuition with Sunderland’s youngsters.
Former Celtic winger Guppy, who is with Sunderland’s squad in South Korea, worked on a freelance basis at the Academy of Light for the final two months of last season after leaving his role with American MLS outfit Colorado Rapids in November.
Guppy was charged with improving the technique of the younger members of Sunderland’s first-team squad, with the likes of Connor Wickham, Ji Dong-won and James McClean all performing extra training sessions with the 43-year-old.
O’Neill, who managed Guppy at Wycombe, Leicester and Celtic, is now ready to add the one-time England international permanently, to work alongside first-team coach Steve Walford.
The Sunderland manager told the Echo: “I’m looking to bring in Stevey Guppy on a full-time basis.
“I want him to continue his individual work, particularly with the younger players here. That’s a really important step for us.
“He’s had great experience with Gary Smith, who’s at Stevenage now, after they both won the Major League Soccer in America.
“He’s got good experience for one I consider relatively young. And I want to develop him as a coach, as much as anything else.”
Guppy’s imminent appointment comes after former reserve team coaching pair Keith Bertschin and Stephen Clemence left the Stadium of Light to join ex-Sunderland boss Steve Bruce at Hull City last month.
The double departure has freed up a spot for Guppy’s appointment, along with the promotion of youth-team coach Kevin Ball, who is now in charge of Sunderland’s second string.
Former Sunderland skipper Ball faces his first public outing in his new post at Whitby Town tonight (kick-off 7pm) after a behind-closed-doors run-out against Hamilton Academical yesterday.
And O’Neill is keen for Ball, whose role was set to change anyway due to the reorganisation of the academy system, to have an involvement with the first-team too.
O’Neill added: “I was disappointed to see both Keith and Steve leave. They left of their own volition because Stevey Bruce had brought them in. I understand that.
“I wish them the very best. Both felt it was promotion for them and an opportunity that they couldn’t turn down.
“Kevin was always going to be stepping up with the way the academy system is changing.
“And at some stage or another, I’d like Kevin to get some sort of involvement with the first-team.
“We’ll deal with that accordingly further down the line.
“I’ve said before that my own view is that Niall Quinn is Mr Sunderland. I’d say Kevin Ball wouldn’t be far behind. Some supporters might think he’s even ahead.
“He’s great here, so enthusiastic and wants to do well.”