JOHN O’Shea admits Sunderland must find a quick tonic to their home sickness to stop visiting sides revelling in a trip to Wearside.
Summer signing O’Shea hopes to be in contention to make his home debut in Sunday’s clash with Stoke City after missing last weekend’s defeat to Chelsea with a calf strain suffered on international duty.
With Phil Bardsley potentially facing an FA ban after being charged with violent conduct, Steve Bruce will be keen to get fellow defender O’Shea back in the starting line-up.
Saturday’s loss to Chelsea was an eighth in nine games at the Stadium of Light for Steve Bruce’s men, with Sunderland yet to take a point on their own patch this season.
O’Shea knows from his Manchester United days how difficult it can be to tackle Sunderland on Wearside, but has warned that the Black Cats need to start winning at home if they are to achieve their objectives for the campaign.
The Republic of Ireland international told the Echo: “It’s been the case in 2011 so far that the home form hasn’t been that great.
“That will be the key to how successful we are this season, making sure our home form is rock solid.
“I never had an easy game when I came up against Sunderland in the past. It was always a very difficult game as a United player and an intimidating ground to play at.
“As a group, we have to make the Stadium of Light a fortress again for us. The key to it is scoring goals.
“We’re creating the chances and on another day, it would have been a two or 3-0 win at Swansea last month.
“The Stadium of Light will be rocking this weekend and hopefully we get the goals we need and we can send everyone home happy.”
If O’Shea is passed fit to face the Potters, the 30-year-old will maintain Sunderland’s contingent of former Manchester United players in the back four.
The Black Cats have boasted three ex-Old Trafford defenders in every Premier League game this season and O’Shea admits the familiarity is an asset to Bruce’s side.
O’Shea added: “The gaffer has brought myself and Wes in because of the experience we’ve had at United and to make sure we can pass it on to the younger lads, especially away from home, and make sure the team can cope with different things.
“Whether we are ex-Man U or not, we know each other. That’s the key thing, that we know each other’s games.
“We did keep a clean sheet at Swansea and the more you play together, performances will become better.”