Give it time and the two strikers will gel, insists O’Neill

Sunderland's manager Martin O'Neill.

Sunderland's manager Martin O'Neill.

MARTIN O’Neill gave tentative approval to the new Danny Graham-Steven Fletcher strike partnership – despite neither getting on the scoresheet in the 2-1 weekend defeat at West Brom, writes GRAEME ANDERSON.

Fletcher struck a post after being teed up by the former Swansea striker in the first half, while Graham was inches away from turning a shot in in the second period.

Sunderland manager O’Neill believes, though, it would be wrong to rush to judge the pairing on just 90 minutes.

“It’ll take a bit of time,” he said.

“This was the first time that the two have played together competitively and I think they’ll improve as time goes on and they get a proper understanding.

“All season long we have had Steven Fletcher playing as a centre-forward, but, in his time at Wolves, he played as many times off a centre-forward, as he did as a centre-forward.

“And while was enjoying it against Albion, he probably needed a bit of help closer to him during the game.

“I think they will do well, but Danny Graham is still working on getting his match sharpness.

“Because he hasn’t played a lot this season compared to last, he feels he needs a game or two to get fully match-fit.

“And that’s fine – he worked hard for the side and he didn’t have a great deal of luck – but he’ll do fine for us.”

Ironically, it was the man Graham displaced up front, Stephane Sessegnon, who shone most brightly in the game and got Sunderland’s goal with a wonderfully executed finish.

“I thought Sessegnon was fantastic for us, in the second half especially, and we should have capitalised on his great work,” enthused O’Neill.

“It was a great goal he scored, but, as I’ve said before, with the ability he’s got and the positions he takes up, he should be getting double figures goals every season.”

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