O’Neill to hold talks with Sunderland owner

AWARD: Martin O'Neill.
AWARD: Martin O'Neill.
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SUNDERLAND’S injury problems will lead Martin O’Neill to discuss potential transfer targets with owner Ellis Short.

The Black Cats were down to the bare bones for yesterday’s win over Manchester City after being ravaged by illness and injury, and are likely to be similarly depleted for tomorrow’s trip to Wigan.

While virus victims Keiren Westwood and Kieran Richardson will return to the fold in the short-term, along with injured full-back Phil Bardsley, boss O’Neill is concerned at the number of casualties on his hands, particularly in central defence.

Michael Turner (knee) and Titus Bramble (Achilles/calf) both missed yesterday’s game, while ever-present Wes Brown limped off midway through the first half with a groin strain.

It forced O’Neill to hand Matt Kilgallon a first Sunderland appearance in 18 months, with the ex-Sheffield United defender expected to continue alongside John O’Shea at the DW Stadium tomorrow.

Since succeeding Steve Bruce, O’Neill has been at pains to point out that he didn’t move to the Stadium of Light due to the promise of any mythical transfer war-chest.

But the ex-Aston Villa boss will hold talks with Short over any potential new recruits with the transfer window now open.

O’Neill said: “I wish he’d been at the game yesterday to see the spirit himself, but I’m sure he was watching on television.

“He’s been delighted with the results, but the injuries are a bit of a concern and I will be having a conversation with him to see what we can do in the transfer market.”

O’Neill’s former Aston Villa defender James Collins is a name that continues to be associated with Sunderland, while Newcastle United are also said to be keeping tabs on the Welsh international.

Sunderland were also linked with a move for out-of-favour Spurs winger Steven Pienaar over the weekend, with the South African starting just eight Premier League games under Harry Redknapp’s since joining from Everton 12 months ago.

But the big hurdle to any move for Pienaar would be his wage packet, with the 29-year-old thought to be earning around £60,000 a week at White Hart Lane.