BATTLE-SCARRED John O’Shea has challenged Sunderland to start gambling in the final third after salvaging a point in the Wear-Tyne derby.
Sunderland delivered another impotent attacking display against 10-man Newcastle at the Stadium of Light yesterday, only for Demba Ba’s late own goal to deny the Magpies a third victory in five meetings between the two rivals.
Martin O’Neill’s men have found the net just six times in the opening seven Premier League games despite the £22million double capture of striker Steven Fletcher and winger Adam Johnson during the summer.
And centre-half O’Shea, left with a badly swollen nose after a first half tussle with Shola Ameobi, admits Sunderland need to chance their arm more as an attacking force, although he believes the back of the international breaks will help.
O’Shea told the Echo: “We needed to put more pressure on them and we’re just not having enough shots on goal.
“That’s something we need to improve upon, even though we’re not losing games.
“Last season, we were creating lots of chances and maybe we have to be a bit more brave and get more men into the box because we are getting the ball out wide.
“With some of the set-pieces too, we let them off the hook. The keeper was able to claim quite a few of them quite easily.
“The international games definitely are a hindrance when you sign new players and you’re getting used to them.
“But now we have a massive run of games and hopefully we can get stronger and stronger. I think we will.
“We’re more than capable of winning matches. We just have to make sure we get the confidence and create more chances.”
O’Shea didn’t attempt to claim Sunderland’s 86th minute equaliser after his flick-on to Seb Larsson’s free-kick was diverted beyond the untested Tim Krul by Ba’s deflection.
But after receiving both the ecstasy and relief of a late leveller, Sunderland’s stand-in skipper felt the hosts should have done more to claim all three points – James McClean going closest with a drive from 20 yards that just drifted past the post.
“I’ve had a look at the goal and I’ve managed to get something on it, but it was going well wide,” said the 31-year-old.
“Thankfully, though, I got something on it and it went in off Demba Ba.
“Seb’s (Larsson) been putting in some wonderful balls all season and we should be getting our heads on more on them.
“Thankfully we did and got ourselves back in the game.
“But we lost some of our composure towards the end. We kept passing the ball out wide and put some good crosses in, but we should have been able to take advantage of it even more.”
Meanwhile, O’Shea is not thought to have broken his nose despite heavy swelling after receiving a trailing arm to the face from Ameobi during the first half.
O’Shea added: “The nose isn’t too bad. Shola uses his arms quite well and quite early on, I got one.
“You expect things like that in a derby, so there’s no problem. As long as it doesn’t look intentional on the replay, there’s no problem whatsoever.
“You’re more than aware of what you’re going to be facing against Shola and Demba. They’re two big boys and you have to cope with it.
“I don’t think it’s broken. The doc’s checked it out.”