John O’Shea is happy to fill the void in central midfield – but admits he is only a short-term fix.
With David Moyes’s central midfield options decimated through injury, the Sunderland boss turned to his skipper to play holding midfield against Manchester City on the opening day of the Premier League season.
O’Shea was deployed alongside Jack Rodwell as the Black Cats almost came away with a valuable point.
With Seb Larsson (knee), Jan Kirchhoff (hamstring) and Lee Cattermole (hernia) all missing, Moyes had few other options other than to draft in experienced O’Shea.
“At different stages at Man United, there were spells when I played in the holding role in the Champions League – I’ve played maybe 20-25 games there,” said O’Shea.
“I am used to it, but I haven’t played there for a few years – I have more been in central defence.
“But it needed to be done and it’s always been the case that I know the manager trusts me to fill in if needed. I can’t see it being a permanent fixture, though!”
O’Shea is, though, set to start the Wear-Tees derby against Middlesbrough in central midfield on Sunday lunchtime.
He added: “I’m not going to second-guess the manager, but I think centrally will be the main area. But if the manager needs me to play anywhere, I will always help out.
“Hopefully we will get the bodies back as quickly as possibly, because we saw last season, when we had a healthy squad, the competition kept everyone on their toes and that was reflected in performances.”
The Sunderland squad took a lot of positives from the 2-1 defeat at the Etihad Stadium. “I think it must have crossed a lot of the fans’ minds and the players minds that this could be a very long evening,” added O’Shea.
“But we stuck at it, kept our shape well, frustrated them, Vito [Mannone] didn’t have much to do.
“That bodes well going forward, because we were able to frustrate a team with all the quality that they have, and ultimately cause them some problems too.
“If we show that attitude and application, and be a bit better on the ball and clever attacking-wise, we will cause teams a lot of problems because we had some chances.”