O’Neill tells Sunderland men to take heart from Everton display ahead of Fulham trip

CLASH ... Fulham's manager Martin Jol, left, and Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill will meet up again on Sunday.
CLASH ... Fulham's manager Martin Jol, left, and Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill will meet up again on Sunday.
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MARTIN O’Neill takes his players to in-form Fulham this Sunday saying his players can take heart from their performance at Everton – even though it ended in defeat, writes Graeme Anderson.

The Black Cats boss hopes to avoid two away defeats in a row this weekend, knowing that will up the pressure on the Wearsiders next home game, against West Brom a week tomorrow.

But he says his players should have no fear or trepidation at Craven Cottage after showing excellent form at Goodison Park.

He said: “I know we didn’t take any points out of the game but I thought we played brilliantly in the game against Everton.

“We carved out loads of chances, clear-cut chances too and finally got a goal just before half-time.

“So to be hit by two goals in as many minutes in the second half was tough to take – even Everton felt we were hard done by to a certain extent.

“But we shouldn’t be too despondent about the result because Everton is always a difficult place to go and we played well enough against them to win..

“We played very well but our luck wasn’t in.”

Adam Johnson scored his debut goal for Sunderland in the game and Martin O’Neill expects that to help the England international who has struggled for form this season.

But he hopes it will be more than the winger who is boosted by the Everton display.

“I’m sure Adam Johnson will feel better for the game because his job is making goals or scoring them.

“He’s improved with last week’s display but I’m sure all our flair players will improve.”

O’Neill though isn’t under-estimating the challenge presented by Fulham this weekend.

He said: “They’re a good side and have been for some time now.

“They have a settled team.

“A settled nucleus of the team so the loss of Clint Dempsey and Mousa Dembele is something they’ve been able to absorb and then the addition of Dimitar Berbatov obviously enhances things.

“Berbatov has been a superb player who looks reinvigorated by the move away from Old Trafford.

“As a side, they’re in very fine form but I know that it is time to convert defeats into draws and draws into victories, and the sooner the better.”