John O'Shea to savour first North East derby

JOHN O’Shea is delighted Sunderland have been paired with Middlesbrough in the FA Cup, as he wants to make up for missing this season’s first major derby.

John O'Shea

JOHN O’Shea is delighted Sunderland have been paired with Middlesbrough in the FA Cup, as he wants to make up for missing this season’s first major derby.

The Black Cats’ clash with Tony Mowbray’s Teessiders is already being viewed as one that could go down to the wire.

For O’Shea the tie can’t come soon enough, as a hamstring injury ruled him out of Sunderland’s defeat to Newcastle United in August, Steve Bruce’s Black Cats losing out to a Ryan Taylor goal.

Now the FA Cup has handed the club an opportunity to get some form of derby satisfaction by pairing them with their North East rivals, and the defender can’t wait for the game.

O’Shea said: “It’s a great draw and there’s no doubt it will be a brilliant occasion. We have home advantage, which will give us a great chance of progressing into the next round, but Middlesbrough are doing well this season and like Peterborough (in the last round), we must do a professional job.

“It will be very tough – there’s no doubt about that. They will be up for it, but so will we, so it promises to be a great game.

“Derbies are the games you want to be involved in and because it’s in the cup it will be that extra bit special to the fans, because both teams will want to be in the pot for the next round.

“I missed the game with Newcastle at the beginning of the season so it will be my first derby since moving to the club, and I’m looking forward to it.

“I’ve played in derbies before and there’s always that extra buzz surrounding the game. I’m sure

they will bring a lot of fans and the atmosphere in the stadium will be great, but we have to make sure we come out on top.”

As well as home advantage, history is on Sunderland’s side, as the Black Cats have won three – two after replays – of their four FA Cup encounters with Boro.

No one knows the history of this fixture better than Sunderland’s own Middlesbrough-born midfielder Lee Cattermole, and O’Shea admits that his skipper is eager to put one over his home town club.

He added: “Obviously Lee has been at Middlesbrough before and I’m sure he will be talking to us about the game a lot in the coming weeks.

“He knows all about what these games mean to the supporters and I’m sure he will be reminding everyone of that. It will be that extra special for him and he will want to get one over on his home town club, and hopefully we’ll be able to do that and send the fans home happy.”

The tie would not have been possible had Sunderland not negotiated what looked like a potential banana skin at Peterborough with relative ease on Sunday.

O’Shea continued: “We knew the threats Peterborough posed and we knew what they were capable of – but we went there, did the job, and did it well.

“We were not very happy with the way we played in the first half, we maybe let them get into the game a little bit more than we had wanted.

“But the goal after half-time was a crucial point and it was a great strike from Seb.

“There was a big improvement in the second half and we controlled the game from the goal on really, but we had to stay disciplined and make sure we didn’t let them back into the game, because we knew how dangerous they can be on the counter.

“The second goal more or less killed them off and we could have had a couple more. But the main thing is we’re through to the next round, we’ve won another game and that can only give us more confidence going into the next game.”

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