John O’Shea says the selection dilemma awaiting Dick Advocaat at centre-half this season will be a “dream” for the Sunderland boss.
The arrival of summer signings Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Coates has left Sunderland’s central defensive department as arguably the strongest area of the squad.
You need people constantly fighting for places and fighting to stay in that XIJohn O’Shea
Ex-Liverpool man Coates was a key figure in Sunderland’s escape from the drop at the end of last season, while Kaboul has plenty of Premier League pedigree after eight years in the top flight with Spurs and Portsmouth.
With the duo joining veteran pair O’Shea and Wes Brown at the Stadium of Light, Advocaat faces a headache over who lines up together in the heart of the back four for Sunderland’s Premier League opener at Leicester on Saturday week.
But captain O’Shea believes Advocaat will be seeing the selection puzzle as a positive, with the head coach getting the chance to experiment with his back line in tomorrow’s penultimate pre-season friendly at Doncaster.
O’Shea told the Echo: “There’s a lot of competition in defence now and that’s what we’re looking for throughout the whole team.
“That’s how you get success.
“I’ve had that practically all my career and that’s how teams get better.
“You need people constantly fighting for places and fighting to stay in that XI.
“Hopefully that’s how we get better results.
“It’s a manager’s dream.”
Kaboul is expected to make his Sunderland debut at the Keepmoat Stadium, although Coates may again be a spectator after only returning to pre-season training last week, following his extra time-off in the summer due to his Copa America involvement.
Fellow new boy Jeremain Lens will also make his Black Cats bow alongside Kaboul after Advocaat opted against throwing the Dutch international straight into friendly action against Toronto last week.
But Lens has impressed his new team-mates on the training field after Sunderland splashed out £8million to land the 27-year-old from Dynamo Kiev.
O’Shea added: “I’d seen clips of him before in the internationals and Champions League.
“But when you see him in the flesh, you realise the speed and power that he does possess.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to feed him lots of possession and with the other attacking talent that we have, there’s lots more goals to be scored this season.”