MARTIN O’Neill admits he’s looking forward to the return of star man Stephane Sessegnon this weekend.
But he insists that shouldn’t diminish the contributions of Nicklas Bendtner and Fraizer Campbell in the African’s absence.
The Sunderland manager is expected to put Sessegnon straight back into the starting line-up for the visit of Queens Park Rangers this Saturday, following the diminutive striker’s completion of a three-match ban picked up against Newcastle United.
And O’Neill admits the player has been a loss.
“Of course you’ll miss a player of Stephane’s calibre,” he said. “He’s that someone special that teams love to have – someone who has the skills to create something out of nothing.
“He’s frustrating at times, like all those type of players can be.
“He’ll try something and lose it and try something and lose it again, but then all of a sudden he can just completely open up a defence and you can have two or three great goalscoring opportunities.”
The manager, though, has been happy with the players who have pulled together in the Benin international’s absence with Nicklas Bendtner and Fraizer Campbell both coming back from different types of injuries but trying to maintain Sunderland’s momentum.
The two strikers only started a game together for the first time once Sessegnon was unavailable, but O’Neill says it can still be a useful partnership.
“I think that whoever you are looking to pair up front, it shouldn’t be an enormous problem,” argued O’Neill.
“Once they get used to each other as players you would expect it to gel pretty quickly.
“They haven’t had that opportunity because Fraizer has been injured for a long period of time but they’re got it with Stephane being out and there have been some encouraging signs.
“The game is all about partnerships but it doesn’t give you much time to get used to each other in the modern game and, for that reason, the sooner the partnerships develop the better.
“I was pleased with Frazier and Nicklas’s combination in the Liverpool game in particular in which Nicklas scored and Fraizer got an assist – their play has been a bonus to us.”