Crocked former Man United man O’Shea calls for defensive stability at Sunderland

Sunderland's John O'Shea (right) in action against Slovakia with the  Republic of Ireland.
Sunderland's John O'Shea (right) in action against Slovakia with the Republic of Ireland.
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JOHN O’Shea admits Sunderland’s back line needs some stability ahead of another change in defensive personnel.

O’Shea will miss out on making his home debut in tomorrow’s clash with Chelsea after failing to recover from the calf strain suffered while on international duty with the Republic of Ireland last week.

The 30-year-old hopes to be fit for next week’s encounter against Stoke City, but his absence, coupled with the departure of Anton Ferdinand to QPR, will force boss Steve Bruce to name his fourth different defensive combination in just five games.

O’Shea knows the importance of a settled back four and is keen to put the stop-start beginning to his Sunderland career behind him and earn a sustained run in the side.

“Getting a settled back four is the key thing in football,” O’Shea told the Echo.

“There will always be changes from time to time, but if the manager can pick the majority of the same players each week, that is a massive help.

“If you’ve got the same four or five players in defence week-in and week-out, you get to know one another and you develop as a unit.

“The more you play together, the better understanding you get between the back four.

“That’s why this calf injury is so frustrating. I missed most of pre-season and then when the season started, I missed the Liverpool game and the derby.

“I got back to play against Swansea but then got injured playing for Ireland against Slovakia, which means I miss another big game against Chelsea.

“The plan was to play both games for Ireland and that would have meant that I would be fully-fit, but it hasn’t worked out that way.

“It’s just one of those things. But fingers crossed I will be back sooner rather than later.”

O’Shea was an interested spectator for Sunderland’s last victory over Chelsea when Bruce’s men sparked a mid-season slump for the reigning Premier League champions with a 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge in November.

It ultimately cost Chelsea the title and earned O’Shea’s Manchester United a record 19th league crown.

O’Shea added: “I watched most of that game on TV last season. It wasn’t an absolute shock because that Sunderland team had some very good players in it, but it was still a surprise result. The players really turned on the style that day.

“I think the manager can take a lot of positives from that going into this weekend’s game and use those positives to show the players what they can do against the big teams.

“Chelsea know they won’t be in for an easy game at the Stadium of Light and we have to try to make sure we get off to a positive start.

“I’m sure the lads will be fine. They showed last season that they can perform against a team like Chelsea and I hope they do it again tomorrow.”

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