MODEL professional John O’Shea is reaping the rewards for looking after himself – after becoming the only player to play every Premier League minute this season.
The Sunderland skipper has been Mr Consistent this season in a topsy-turvy campaign.
It’s important to let everybody know that when he came back in pre-season he was already fitter than most.
The defender is 34 next month, but has shown supreme fitness this season to become an ever-present in Gus Poyet’s line-up.
And the Sunderland boss says it’s testament to the way the former Manchester United player has looked after his body, both between matches and during the summer.
Poyet said: “It’s important to let everybody know that when he came back in pre-season he was already fitter than most – him and (Emanuele) Giaccherini.
“There was a difference between those two and the rest.
“Sooner or later, Connor Wickham came quite close, which I think is quite natural for him.
“That’s showed for John.”
Sunderland have been hit by injuries throughout the season, with the likes of Billy Jones, Anthony Reveillere, Lee Cattermole and Wes Brown all having spells on the sidelines.
But O’Shea has avoided picking up any niggles, and, despite his age, is now looking to continue his amazing run in the team.
For Poyet, it proves that age is just a number.
He added: “After the cup game, he (O’Shea) had a slight problem, but he recovered fine to play against West Brom.
“I think it’s good for football. I remember when I got over 30, everyone starts looking at you like you’re finished.
“He proves that if you are fit enough and you look after yourself, you can play on and perform.
“Look at the man of the match in the (Capital One) cup final last weekend (John Terry).
“It depends on you. It’s about how you look after yourself.”
Sunderland are without a game this weekend as the FA Cup takes centre stage – the Black Cats’ fifth round conquerors, League One club Bradford City, host Reading at Valley Parade with a Wembley semi-final date up for grabs.
Sunderland return to action next Saturday with a crucial home clash with fellow relegation battlers Aston Villa at the Stadium of Light.